And the finalists for the 3 Quarks Daily Science Prize are…

3QD_not a finalist

That’s a trick question!

You can still vote for one of the nominees for the 3QD Science Prize 2014 until September 1st at 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time!

The top 20 most-voted-for posts (out of a grand total of 85, so that makes 23.5% of the entries) will make it into the finals. Seems like pretty good odds, eh? Much higher than applying for a grant.

Imagine now that you could lobby for federal funding via popular vote:

“I deserve to be among the scientific One Percenters. Vote for my ground breaking research on Bunny Hopping as an animal model for compulsive drug taking behavior and I will cure addiction .”

The Neurocritic has two posts nominated for the 3QD Prize:

 

{Looks like I should not abandon my day job for a lucrative career in science blogging any time soon…}

For Your Consideration: In the event that you haven’t cast your ballot for one of the other nominees, there’s still time to end your search for meaning and VOTE FOR EXISTENTIAL NEUROSCIENCE (alphabetically filed under “The Neurocritic”).

Otherwise I will be obligated to add another Banner of Failure to the sidebar of my main blog.

Thank you, and good night.

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YOUR BLOG IS FUTILE

Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st Century (2011-2014)

 

Like much of life, I’m afraid…

THIS is the true meaning of Negative Psychology, my friends. Melancholia and Futility.

Don’t be fooled by false idols claiming that followers of “Negative Psychology” are all bullies out to destroy others’ reputations, with public shaming as their primary motivation.

I am here to take back the term “Negative Psychology” as an outlook (or mood or stance) in opposition to Positive Psychology, which is mainly for rich white people.

And in fact, sometimes it’s positive to be negative — as Dr. Margaret Nichols, a clinical psychologist, explains:

I acknowledge that for many endeavors, having a positive and confident attitude increases the odds of your success. But as a total life strategy – it’s got some major flaws.  For starters,  unless you’re unusually lucky, as you go through life you will encounter numerous situations where good is NOT rewarded, evil goes unpunished, and bad shit happens to you that you can’t control,  and it happens for no particular reason, let alone a good one.

And positive thinking can get you in trouble here.  For the entire ‘positive thinking’ philosophy rests on two flawed assumptions:  That most of our life is under our control, if only we approach it correctly;  and that things that we can’t control are at least governed by laws  that are fair and just.  In short, the principles of “visualize and you will attain it” and “what goes around comes around.”

…and when bad things happen, it’s all your fault!

Of course, this has nothing to do with academic psychology research or the social psychology replication movement. It’s simply that I didn’t agree with the co-opting of the term for use in the current “replication debate“.  But I’m not a psychologist, and I’m operating outside this debate. I was actively trying to avoid the acrimony, in fact, because I found it depressing.

Finally, “public shaming” has never been my goal (assuming I was included among “a handful of other blogs devoted to exposing bad science”). For the record, I think shame is corrosive, which is laid bare in The Destructive Power of Shame.

But in the end, this blog post is futile, much like everything else I write.

 

Coupland wall

Images: Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st Century (2011-2014) at the Vancouver Art Gallery. NOTE: the artist encouraged photography and tagging of his work

 

All Apologies

What else should I be
All apologies
What else could I say
Everyone is gay
What else could I write
I don’t have the right
What else should I be
All apologies

 

The text of Jonah Lehrer’s speech is available on his website. The Knight Foundation has also issued an apology for the $20,000 payment to Lehrer.

My Apology, by Jonah Lehrer

Knight Foundation regrets paying Lehrer speaking fee

But will either apology result in a $20,000 donation to the ScienceOnline Scholarship fund? This was the challenge issued by Taylor Dobbs

Jonah Lehrer on Jonah Lehrer

Feb 12 2013

Knight Foundation: Informed & Engaged Communities

Media Learning Seminar 2013

Read: “In first public comments since plagiarism scandal, Jonah Lehrer blames ‘arrogance, need for attention’ for lies” on Knight Blog by Elise Hu

Jonah Lehrer speaks

Advance to 60 min and wait for buffering. Lehrer takes podium at 1:02.

“I’ve been asked to give a talk about decision-making. I’m going to focus today on bad decisions. On the causes and repercussions of failure. The failure I’ll be talking about is my own.”

 

ADDENDUM (Feb 13 2013):

Just when you think he’s expressing sincere remorse and apologizing for specific transgressions (including plagiarizing Christian Jarrett), he digresses into an irrelevant ramble about unconscious bias in forensic science. By comparing his deliberate journalistic transgressions to FBI fingerprint errors that resulted in wrongful arrest, he diminishes personal responsibility for his own errors and negates his prior confession and apology. Sad indeed.

He supposedly longs to use what we know about the psychology of deceit and the neuroscience of broken trust to “fix” himself.  He also applies Dan Ariely’s work on the ubiquity of cheating (in small ways) to justify his own actions. “The human mind is a confabulation machine.” Then why don’t we see similar scandals every day of the week?

Lehrer reveals “a consistent asymmetry in the ways in which I noticed error” to claim that he was blind to his own failings, but never to the mistakes of others.

“If I’m going to regain some semblance of self-respect, then I need the help of others. I need my critics to tell me what I’ve gotten wrong if only so they can show myself I’m able to listen.”

Um, Spindle Neurons and Science Writing in 2007, Depression’s Cognitive Downside in 2010, and Revisiting Depression’s Cognitive Downside in 2011.1 Not to mention the many many book reviews and blog posts of others. See, for example, this recap by Christopher Chabris.

Self-Sabotage vs. Hubris and Narcissism

I’m reminded of my recent post on The Neuroanatomical Correlates of Self-Sabotage. It described the unconscious strategy of self-handicapping, or slacking off and then compiling a list of reasons for why you didn’t succeed, as a way to preserve self-esteem. Lehrer is indeed trying to preserve his ego and self-dignity, but the external blaming routine seems motivated by narcissism instead of being a shame-avoidance mechanism. In order to regain his writing career, he admits that he must join the rest of us, the unwashed masses of fact-checkers and footnoters.

However, I have no real insight into what his motivations might be. Cynics point to the $20,000 speaking fee he received from the Knight Foundation. But given the uproar and the outrage and the tweet wall of shame, was it really worth it?

Footnote

1  Despite being THE Neurocritic, I was never comfortable piling on during the original Jonah-bashing, because I thought it was mean. Back in the ScienceBlogs days, I occasionally commented on Jonah’s Frontal Cortex blog.  He’d reply back sometimes and other times linked to my blog. I don’t actually condone personal attacks, and perhaps this low level of personal interaction made me even more loath to do so.