The Recursive Crisis of Trust in Social Psychology and Beyond

The recent allegations surrounding Francesca Gino, a respected researcher of dishonesty at Harvard Business School, have cast a disquieting shadow over the field of social psychology. The breadth and depth of the scandal, coupled with Gino’s widespread influence in the field of dishonesty research illuminates the precarious nature of trust in academic research and poses serious questions about the integrity of peer-reviewed science.

According to reports, Gino stands accused of fabricating data in multiple studies she co-authored, inciting fear and confusion amongst her collaborators and the wider scientific community. As someone deeply entrenched in the study of unethical behavior, Gino’s actions, if proven, would be a jarring paradox, as well as a hilarious irony, further stirring the mistrust.

This shocking turn of events forces us to continue to reconsider the nature and foundations of academic integrity in scientific research and the ongoing replication crisis. Could this be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, shining a a spotlight on a flawed system that has been festering beneath the surface for years?

Gino’s case is not an isolated incident in social psychology. The field has seen its fair share of controversies in recent years, with other respected researchers like Diederik Stapel and Brian Wansink embroiled in similar misconduct cases. Such incidents have even continued to reinforce the “replication crisis,” challenging the credibility and reliability of previously accepted research. This series of events points to a systemic problem, raising uncomfortable questions about the state of peer-reviewed science.

The allegation that multiple academic papers contain manipulated or completely fabricated data undermines the very foundation of scientific research – trust. Academics, like Maurice E. Schweitzer, who collaborated with Gino, admit that they implicitly trusted their peers to provide accurate and reliable data. This implicit trust, however, can be exploited, leading to significant ramifications for the credibility and progress of science.

This crisis of trust is not confined to social psychology. While social psychology might appear as a bellwether, the issues at hand impact the wider scientific community. Lack of data availability, opaque methodologies, and the pressure to produce groundbreaking research are prevalent in numerous disciplines. The scientific community’s obsession with novel findings, as well as reinforcing ideologically driven narratives, often overlooks the rigorous validation of results, making fertile ground for misconduct.

In the wake of this scandal, academia is grappling with the need for stricter regulations and increased transparency. The open science movement, which promotes free and open access to research data, methodology, and findings, has gained momentum in recent years. This movement aims to address some of these issues by encouraging researchers to ‘preregister’ their studies, thus preventing the manipulation of hypotheses to fit the results. However, as Gino’s case illustrates, open science measures can also fall short if the fundamental ethos of honesty and integrity is not upheld.

We may consider Gino’s case as a catalyst for reform in the scientific community. The systematic reevaluation of academic papers and datasets associated with Gino may well establish a blueprint for future audits in the face of academic misconduct. The scrutiny may force researchers to adopt more rigorous practices in their work, increasing transparency and reducing the possibility of data manipulation.

However, while this is a critical step, addressing the root causes of such behavior is equally important. Institutions must foster a culture of honesty and integrity, where rigorous validation and replication are valued as much as originality.

The crisis of trust in scientific research is a harsh wake-up call in the ongoing crisis that is academia. The fallout from this crisis will undoubtedly continue to reverberate throughout the scientific community. It is essential that we take this opportunity to instigate meaningful changes to uphold the integrity and credibility of scientific research. The alternative is a continued erosion of trust in science.

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June 27, 2023 3:00 am

Academic & scientific research. Self-described “experts” everywhere, informed within a hyperreality of computer models and data, endless data & numbers. Model inputs, containing ideological bias, outputting a simulation, passed off as subjective research.

What percentage of published “peer reviewed” research findings across all of academia do we think are accurate? i.e. — Not False.

Blinded By Science.

Reply to  SteveG
June 27, 2023 4:20 am

All science is, or should be, falsifiable so potentially all science is false?

Reply to  HotScot
July 6, 2023 5:02 am

All science is, or should be, falsifiable so potentially all science is false?

…and that, my friend, is the essence of science. If you cannot get your head around that, you lack the intellectual honesty required by science. We progress by proving the previous knowledge false, easy as that.
I think though, the term “falsifiable” refers to the requirement that it can be argued using existing knowledge. How do you argue “heaven” or “hell” or “scientific consensus”?
As far as I’m concerned, the real test is repeatability. How can you assume something peer reviewed, if none of them could, or even tried, to repeat your results?
…but you must admit, the lady under discussion does prove a very salient point: A department dedicated to dishonesty and fraud, will be laser focused on ensuring they teach standards of dishonesty and fraud such as benefits him who pays the piper.
Three hurrahs for privatised, corporate-financed, globalist-oriented education!!!

Reply to  SteveG
June 27, 2023 4:23 am

Blinded By Science

This one’s for those who were, er, blinded…

Ron Long
June 27, 2023 3:07 am

President Ronald Reagan: Trust But Verify. The Scientific process demands that data, findings, process be available for inspection and verification. This process is not included in the majority of CAGW/Climate Change statements. It’s going to get worse and may not get better.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Ron Long
June 27, 2023 10:15 am

The woke ignore (have contempt for?) the Constitution. Misinterpreting, fiddling and making up supportive data is easy peasy. Actually, isn’t this an underpinning of their world view.

Reply to  Ron Long
June 27, 2023 11:24 pm

Data has been enslaved for centuries – Kepler had to buy Tycho’s data in order to prove planets go around the Sun in elliptical orbits – proving BOTH Ptolemy AND Copernicus/Galileo wrong.

June 27, 2023 3:38 am

I used to think that standards in pure Ciences remained high but in viewf the perversions of the cult of climate i am not so sure. Anyone got Any purescience examples

Stan Brown
Reply to  alastairgray29yahoocom
June 27, 2023 6:58 am


Reply to  Stan Brown
June 27, 2023 9:04 am

Agred bu i was lookiing for evidece f corrution nof standards. Inthe STEM world

Reply to  Stan Brown
June 27, 2023 12:12 pm

Jordan Peterson recently interviewed James Lindsey (one of the 3 who submitted and got accepted hoax papers After a PhD in some very abstruse area of math, he quit to become a massage therapist. He says because of things like administrative orders fail at most 1 student in each math class.

His speech at the European Parliament on what Woke is really about:

Reply to  alastairgray29yahoocom
July 6, 2023 7:55 am

Rupert Sheldrake

June 27, 2023 4:00 am

As far as I can see, psychologists, social or otherwise, are enjoying a huge bonanza in new clients. 

“Climate anxiety and dissatisfaction with government responses are widespread in children and young people”

Anxiety is an emotion that alerts us to danger, which can cause us to search for more information about the situation and find potential solutions. In threatening and uncertain situations such as the climate crisis, this response can be seen as what is sometimes referred to as practical anxiety1, 4 because it has the beneficial effect of leading people to reassess their behaviour in order to respond appropriately.

 “is psychology a science?”

I would say it isn’t. I would say it’s a tool that can be utilised in conjunction with mass propaganda and daily indoctrination. Social psychology is all about people’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs…. and they can be manipulated.

Reply to  strativarius
June 27, 2023 4:42 am

We know even less about the human mind than we do about the earth’s climate, and we can’t even figure that out.

As I understand it, much of the problem with science today is that it’s no longer a labour of love, it’s a publishing industry and academics are, more often than not, judged on the number of published research they produce. The institutions they work for derive income from their publications so, the more the merrier.

Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet stated a few years ago that up to 50% of medical publications were junk. Being that it’s one of the more verifiable sciences, people die pretty quickly if medicines or procedures are wrong, where does that leave climate science on the scale of valuable science?

It seems to me that social psychology falls even further down the value proposition of science as it’s almost entirely subjective judgements on the behaviour of people. What true experimentation can really take place on people to determine their behaviours, electric shocks repeated until they press the button to terminate another life?

That’s not to say research isn’t required, but is it really science in the way most people understand how science should function?

Reply to  strativarius
June 27, 2023 5:28 am

I happened by the Pride Fest in Denver this past weekend, and I have never before seen so many men in dresses. I found it funny in a sad way.

The slogan’s used to cover privacy in one’s bedroom. Now, it’s all displayed in public via a parade. I have to wonder if psychology is used more as an operative tool than as a mental heath treatment tool.

Reply to  Scissor
June 27, 2023 5:49 am

It’s the apparent normalisation of fetishes and perversions. Consider, Drag Queens. They have become the shock troops (in schools, libraries etc) for the transie ideology.

Here’s what an old Queen (Paul O’Grady – aka Lily Savage) had to say on the matter.

“Talking with journalist Ben Hunte as part of BBC Radio Four Extra’s Gay Britannia season, Paul made the somewhat surprising admission that he has “no interest” in the show [RuPaul’s Drag Race], or the drag queens of today.

When Hunte asked Paul if he watched Drag Race, Paul didn’t mince words. “No, I can’t bear it,” he said. “Because that’s not drag. “It’s all about shading and contouring the face now and being like supermodels.”

In his day, drag queens were “great comedians in drag.” Paul argued that the queens of today “just parade around going ‘sashay shantay’,” which isn’t drag to him.

Drag queens belong in the pub, according to Paul, and he takes issue with queens who take their drag out of that sphere. “I’ve got no interest in it whatsoever.”

Reply to  Scissor
June 27, 2023 11:28 pm

In Toronto they were proudly walking naked in front of children.

In NYC the trannies were parading and shout slogans like “we’re coming for your children!”

Reply to  strativarius
June 27, 2023 4:48 pm

While the differences are not always clear, and everything comes with an explanation that is at best just a hypothesis to explain results, there is clinical psychology where everything is interpreted under whatever viewpoint the psychologist endorses, generally without rigid controls on data gathering, and there is experimental psychology where the attempt is to collect observational evidence from experiments, generally carried out under double blind conditions. In the later there is generally a genuine effort to collect data, then try to make sense of it.

Simon Derricutt
June 27, 2023 4:00 am

The risk/reward ratio is wrong in current culture. The risk of saying or doing something wrong is low (for example shoplifters in California won’t get prosectured unless they steal more than $1000 in one run, and scientific misconduct of making up data may not result in withdrawal of the paper let alone sacking), though mis-gendering someone in addressing them may have severe penalties.

The “social sciences” are however not really science. There isn’t really any hard data, just opinions, and the consensus may or may not be close to correct but in any case there is no way of proving it except applying Darwin – if that set of beliefs leads to the death of the society that believes them then they must have been wrong. At the moment looks like we’re heading for a Darwin award as a society…. Providing there’s enough diversity, then some bits will of course survive, but the push for One World Government reduces that allowed diversity and thus risks a brittle failure of the whole system rather than just sections failing.

general custer
Reply to  Simon Derricutt
June 27, 2023 5:35 am

“The “social sciences” are however not really science. There isn’t really any hard data,”

The justification for numerology. How much “hard data” is actually accurate and provable? Statistics whose use affects the lives of millions of innocents is based on what? The use of computers and their models has intruded into all fields and become the justification for not only bogus social policy but also nefarious technical and scientific activity. A number isn’t any more inherently accurate than a word.

Bob B.
June 27, 2023 4:05 am

We should all be thankful for dishonesty. What would all those climate “experts” and pundits do without it?

June 27, 2023 4:25 am

Paging Dr Gleick…

Paging Dr Gleick,…

Your hens have come home to roost.

Tom Halla
June 27, 2023 4:53 am

HARKing and P-hacking are common, if sometimes more of an claim than something provable.

Joseph Zorzin
June 27, 2023 5:53 am

I trust engineers, not scientists. They build things which either work or they don’t.

Stan Brown
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 27, 2023 7:47 am

I trust Mathematicians, …because they can often be PROVEN wrong, if that is the case.
I am somewhat biased, as I was a math student many years ( decades) ago. Bachelor of
Science, Math, University of Wisconsin. I am 80 years old.

Stan Brown
Reply to  Stan Brown
June 27, 2023 11:10 am

Well… statisticians maybe not so much, but…? They also can be shown to be incorrect
or much worse. 🥲

June 27, 2023 6:16 am

There is no trust because there is no truth anymore. Anywhere. A professor of biology, human anatomy and human physiology was recently fired for stating in class that an individual with X and Y chromosomes is male, and an individual with two X chromosomes is female, and to procreate, the male and the female mate. When this becomes a debatable statement, all hope is lost. There is no truth anymore. And no trust.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  starzmom
June 27, 2023 9:31 am

One would think the professor had a pretty good lawsuit, since he got fired for just stating the biological facts, but nowadays, who knows. Facts don’t seem to count for much sometimes.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
June 27, 2023 10:02 am

He got fired for making discriminatory and triggering statements which some students complained about, according to what I read. I don’t understand how one can teach human physiology and anatomy without stating those facts, but that seems to be the problem. Maybe students who can’t handle that version of the truth should not take those classes.

Reply to  starzmom
June 30, 2023 6:28 pm

Students who can’t handle learning something they dislike are wasting their time in college. They need to take some time off, get therapy, and come back only if and when cured.

Students who try to keep others from learning something they dislike don’t belong in college or any polite society. They should be expelled and permanently barred from coming back. Any other schools or employers requesting their transcripts should be warned.

Teachers or administrators who join with those students against learning: Fire them, have security escort them off campus, deduct for all damages and the campus cop’s time from their last paycheck, tell security to shoot if they ever try to return. Then find who hired them and fire _them_.

MIke McHenry
June 27, 2023 6:16 am

The science journals have been saying for years there is “a crisis of reproducibility”. One of the independent science associations a few years ago offered to do a study of scientific integrity in academia. Two thirds of the schools opted out saying it was a sensitive and PR issue. Lets not forget that the school gets a cut of the research grant for overhead.

Scarecrow Repair
June 27, 2023 6:21 am

You get more of what you subsidize.

* Parents subsidize children who never learn the value of work and look forward to college as four more years of not working.

* Student loans subsidize students who have no real aptitude for learning and have to fish around for studies which require no intellect.

* Federal research grants subsidizes researchers who have no real aptitude for research and fish around for fields which require no intellect.

This perfect combination of ineptitude is why academia is full of Marxists and wokists.

Pat Frank
June 27, 2023 7:12 am

In the first place, Social Psychology is not a science. It relies on surveys, all of which suffer from the nominalistic fallacy.

Assume that social phenomenon X is characterized by behaviors yᵢ, (i=1…n). Create a survey looking for behaviors ‘yᵢ.’ Find behaviors ‘yᵢ.’ Claim to have causally proved the presence of X.

The whole thing is completely circular. Neither X nor the yᵢ are deduced from a falsifiable theory. They’re just imputed to be true.

Most of what passes for scholarship in academia follows this pseudomania. Critical Theory, all the departments with *ism. They live on government grants. They have target groups (the misled and the abused). And they validate the politics of university administrators.

And second, “Lack of data availability, opaque methodologies, and the pressure to produce groundbreaking research” Steve McIntyre or Ross McKitrick would know for sure, but I’d expect that after 25 years Michael Mann has still not revealed his methods for MBH98.

What was once climate physics has become Globalwarmingism; just one more piece of abusive academic pseudo-scholarship, distinguished from other essays of Critical Theory by its mathematical decorations.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Pat Frank
June 27, 2023 8:57 am

I was going to mention McIntyre and McKitrick.
They and a couple of others blew the lid off the shenanigans of the ClimateCult™ activists 15 years ago. The McIntyre Ohio State Paper might have been the first of many, but it is a while ago and so I’m not sure.
Those not familiar with this period should go to Climate Audit (CA) — the link here on WUWT works.

Andy Pattullo
June 27, 2023 7:39 am

I have worked in and around academics much of my career, though I consider myself primarily a clinician and published very little. That said I have seen first hand the incentives in place, the near total lack of accountability to produce honest reliable and useful findings, and the rewards handed out for simply publishing, gaining grants and receiving recognition regardless of the value of the work completed. As long as the structures we build to drive activities critical to social progress don’t include oversight, accountability and merit-based incentives and punishments this will continue. People can act virtuously or not. Some are inherently driven to do good and provide value but many will do whatever the system rewards. This is just how things work.

June 27, 2023 7:44 am

The alarm bells and sirens that screamed “fraud” with the exposure of the Climate gate emails were studiously ignored.

So why is anyone now surprised that research fraud is widespread.

Mann’s labeling of the global warming research and publishing collaboration as “The Cause” should have been a big clue that peer review was corrupted.

June 27, 2023 9:08 am

Lets not forget the dishonest science journals and main stream media that aid and abet, no encourage, this behavior. The last remaining truth – you can no longer trust what you read and hear.

June 27, 2023 9:13 am

We still don’t “get it”. The MSM controls the narrative and the narrative is set by the Marxists. It has nothing to do with truth, accuracy, or enlightenment. The game for “scientists” today is to play to the narrative and get published, and paid.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
June 27, 2023 9:35 am

I think you nailed it.

June 27, 2023 9:29 am

TRUST??? How can we have ANY trust in ANY institution when the very people we TRUST to provide us with ACCURATE, HONEST WEATHER FORECASTS and CURRENT CONDITIONS are Leftist Climate Alarmists like THIS one?

To add insult to injury, this snowflake Leftist Climate alarmist plans to go into the “climate consulting” business so he can mislead MORE people to help destroy the economy over a HOAX.

Snowflake Climate Alarmist TV meteorologist quits after receiving “threats and harassment” WELL DESERVED NEGATIVE FEEDBACK over YEARS of UNSCIENTIFIC “climate change” coverage PROPAGANDA and frightening children unnecessarily.

After nearly two decades reporting on the weather and sharing INJECTING his expertise IGNORANCE and UNPROFESSIONAL CLIMATE ALARMISM, Chris Gloninger is stepping down from Des Moines Iowa station KCCI partly because of “PTSD” (Pansy Triggered Snowflake Derangement) he suffered due to the threats WELL DESERVED NEGATIVE FEEDBACK 

Tom Abbott
Reply to  TEWS_Pilot
June 28, 2023 2:42 am

Glad to hear it! 🙂

Gary Pearse
June 27, 2023 10:05 am

“As someone deeply entrenched in the study of unethical behavior, Gino’s actions, if proven, would be a jarring paradox, as well as a hilarious irony, further stirring the mistrust.”

Sociology has been a broken science for several generations (all social ills blamed on capitalism). This stuff gained popularity in the 1950s through books by Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt School and other European social scientists. It was cool to espouse this philosophy by ersatz intellectuals in America (and Canada), partly because of a deep sense of envy of old world intellectuals at the time. I confess I was one of those ersatz ‘thinkers’ back then.

Basically, sociologists into this paradigm had no other recourse but to misrepresent and make stuff up to put their theses across.

Smart Rock
June 27, 2023 11:14 am

Too many universities. End of story.

It’s inconceivable that the numbers of school leavers going to university (almost 40 percent in the UK) are of the same intellectual calibre as the 4 percent who went to university in 1960. And the same goes for the teaching and research staff.

And too much public money thrown at them in the grant-giving industry.

And the “publish or perish” mind-set has metastasised into two closely linked phenomena: multi-author papers, and multiple papers based on the same piece of research, with trivial modifications, in different journals. And the reproducibility crisis is also a direct consequence of the same competitive environment.

And too many journals that get filled with the same redundant papers.

And the torrent of money from the pharmaceutical industry that has irredeemably corrupted research in the broader medical field.

Not to mention that universities are now run as businesses rather than institutions of learning, or that university administrations all seem to have been captured by “progressive” ideologues.

UNIVERSITY should now be spelled UNIDIVERSITY with all that the word implies.

Pardon my rant, I’m just an old-school intellectual elitist, happy that I chose the rough-and-tumble world of the private sector back in 1969.

June 27, 2023 12:43 pm

Some ideas/theories seem to be very attractive and people actively resist data that disproves them. I vividly remember the hostile reaction when a developmental psychologist, Jerome Kagan, gave a talk saying that the data did not support the (still) current notion that early environmental stimulation was key to normal infant development.

As a leading proponent of the environmental hypothesis, he had studied a remote mountain tribe where infants were kept in dark huts with mostly just mom present for the first year – no singing mobiles, toys or other kids and not even much light. This kind of protection of infants probably stems from high mortality rates. Anyway, he expected them to emerge behind in development and stay behind, but they were very normal.

June 27, 2023 4:27 pm

The answer is simple, all government funds made available for research must stipulate that all data and methods be accessible, if misconduct or cheating is discovered all funds must be returned with interest.

June 27, 2023 9:41 pm

Do we know how Ms Gino’s reported transgressions were discovered? Presumably not by peer-review?

June 28, 2023 2:13 pm

An expert in dishonesty simply knows more ways to be dishonest and has no reason not to use them. So she did. Why should this surprise anyone?

Instead, it is better to focus on the true, the genuine and the honorable. Those edify the person and more effectively shield one from acting on temptations that inevitably come.

michael hart
June 30, 2023 1:52 pm

Replication is a significant part of the problem.

The field I started in, chemistry, is relatively easily replicated. Often relatively cheaply and with a few days work. The incentive to cheat is thus very low. But lots of unreplicable results are still published.

There is not much glory (or funding) to be had in confirming other people’s results.
I don’t see an easy answer. It can only come from the culture in which the science is done.

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