The replication crisis has spread all across the scientific community. In the field of psychology, scientists were not able to replicate more than half of previous findings (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). For a long time this problem went unnoticed, but a critical moment occurred when Daryl Bem published his now infamous paper on humans’ ability to quite literally predict the future (Bem, 2011). Many readers doubted his findings as there was no logical basis for the ability to predict the future and years later Daniel Engber summarized it nicely when he wrote:
“(…) the paper posed a very difficult dilemma. It was both methodologically sound and logically insane. (…). If you bought into those results, you’d be admitting that much of what you understood about the universe was wrong. If you rejected them, you’d be admitting something almost as momentous: that the standard methods of psychology cannot be trusted, and that much of what gets published in the field—and thus, much of what we think we understand about the mind—could be total bunk.“ (Engber, 2017)
Science is the collaborative attempt to understand ourselves and the world around us better by gathering and evaluating evidence. Ironically enough, we are pretty bad at evaluating evidence. Luckily, others rejoice in pointing out our flaws. It is this reciprocal corrective process which is at the core of science, and the reason why it works so well. Working collaboratively helps us catch and correct each other’s mistakes.
Psychological researchers try to understand how the mind works. That is, they describe observable phenomena, try to induce explanatory theories, and use those theories to deduce predictions. The explanatory value of a theory is then assessed by comparing theoretical predictions to new observations. Continue reading
With a reliable internet connection comes access to the enormous World Wide Web. Being so large, we rely on tools like Google to search and filter all this information. Additional filters can be found in sites like Wikipedia, offering a library style access to curated knowledge, but it too is enormous. In more recent years, open online courses has rapidly become a highly popular method of gaining easy access to curated, high quality, as well as pre-packaged knowledge. A particularly popular variety is the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, which are found on platforms like Coursera and edX. The promise – global and free access to high quality education – has often been applauded. Some have heralded the age of the MOOC as the death of campus based teaching. Others are more critical, often citing the high drop-out rates as a sign of failure, or argue that MOOCs do not or cannot foster ‘real’ learning (e.g., Zemsky, 2014; Pope, 2014). Continue reading