2023-08-21 Mon

Course intro

Rick Gilmore


Introduction to the course


  • Rick Gilmore, Professor of Psychology
  • Jie Yan, Graduate Student

Purpose & goals

  • Evaluate the methods and values of scientific research
  • Determine how well these methods and values yield reliable, robust findings
  • Evaluate the reproducibility of findings in psychological science
  • Understand what specific changes in practices are associated with open science

Themes & topics

  • What is science trying to do?
  • What practices and norms constitute better science?
  • What practices and norms constitute poorer science?
  • Is there a crisis of reproducibility or replicability in psychological science?
  • Is there a crisis in other areas of science?
  • What are scientists doing to address these criticisms?



Exercises & evaluation

  • Exercises
    • 7 @ 10 points/each
    • Top 4 count
    • Others count toward partial extra credit
  • Attendance (up to 35 points)
  • Final project


  • Articles
    • Retrieve them yourself via the URL (uniform resource locator) and the DOI (digital object identifier).
    • Why do I do this?


  • Meet 3x weekly
  • Monday & Wednesday: lecture + discussion
  • Friday: Work sessions
  • Do your homework; I will call on you.

Culture & climate

  • Creating a community of inquiry
  • Criticism of work/ideas vs. people

Why trust science?

What is science?

Robert Merton

What is science, really?

  • a stock of accumulated knowledge (facts & findings)
  • a set of characteristic methods
  • a set of cultural values (Merton, 1973, p. 268)

Why trust science?

(Oreskes, 2019)

  • “Sustained engagement with the world”
  • “Social character”

Trust in science

“We trust too much in science and not enough in religious faith.”


Figure 1: NORC survey results: ‘We trust too much in science and not enough in religious faith.’

Who trusts science?

The results showed that political conservatism, religiousness, conspiracy ideation, and openness to experience significantly contributed to trust in science, while education did not. Furthermore, after controlling for these factors, an aspect of intellectual humility, openness to revising one’s viewpoint, emerged as one of the key predictors of trust in science.

(Plohl & Musil, 2023)

Figure 2: Optional anonymous survey: https://forms.gle/DEvDGc3boXQuMkg7A

Why should we care who trusts science & why they do or don’t?


Trust, but verify

Russian Proverb, Wikipedia

Next time

Don’t Fool Yourself


This talk was produced using Quarto, using the RStudio Integrated Development Environment (IDE), version 2023.6.1.524.

The source files are in R and R Markdown, then rendered to HTML using the revealJS framework.


Feynman, R. P. (1974). Cargo cult science. https://calteches.library.caltech.edu/51/2/CargoCult.htm. Retrieved from https://calteches.library.caltech.edu/51/2/CargoCult.htm
Merton, R. W. (1973). The normative structure of science. In R. K. Merton & N. W. Storer (Eds.), The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations (pp. 267–278). The University of Chicago Press.
Oreskes, N. (2019). Why Trust Science. Princeton University Press.
Plohl, N., & Musil, B. (2023). Assessing the incremental value of intellectual humility and cognitive reflection in predicting trust in science. Personality and Individual Differences, 214, 112340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2023.112340
Sagan, C. (1996). The Demon-haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (pp. 200–218). Ballantine Books.