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He’s annoyed that PNAS desk-rejected his article.

Baruch Eitam writes: This may be a rant I don’t think so and so I am sharing it with you but one can never be sure. Just had a paper desk rejected from PNAS. You may not appreciate the journal but it is one of the most important journals a psychologist can publish in. So […]

PNAS forgets basic principles of game theory, thus dooming thousands of Bothans to the fate of Alderaan

Under the subject line, “I needed this information to make a go/no-go decision on my new Death Star,” Kevin Lewis points to this press release from a prestigious journal: Because versions of the below articles were previously posted online, PNAS is publishing the articles without embargo: Potential atmospheres around TRAPPIST-1 planets Simulations of stellar winds […]

BREAKING . . . . . . . PNAS updates its slogan!

I’m so happy about this, no joke. Here’s the story. For awhile I’ve been getting annoyed by the junk science papers (for example, here, here, and here) that have been published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences under the editorship of Susan T. Fiske. I’ve taken to calling it PPNAS (“Prestigious proceedings […]

PPNAS again: If it hadn’t been for the jet lag, would Junior have banged out 756 HRs in his career?

In an email with subject line, “Difference between “significant” and “not significant”: baseball edition?”, Greg Distelhorst writes: I think it’s important to improve statistical practice in the social sciences. I also care about baseball. In this PNAS article, Table 1 and the discussion of differences between east vs. west and home vs. away effects do […]

Plan 9 from PPNAS

[cat picture] Asher Meir points to this breathless news article and sends me a message, subject line “Fruit juice leads to 0.003 unit (!) increase in BMI”: “the study results showed that one daily 6- to 8-ounce serving increment of 100% fruit juice was associated with a small .003 unit increase in body mass index […]

After Peptidegate, a proposed new slogan for PPNAS. And, as a bonus, a fun little graphics project.

Someone pointed me to this post by “Neuroskeptic”: A new paper in the prestigious journal PNAS contains a rather glaring blooper. . . . right there in the abstract, which states that “three neuropeptides (β-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine) play particularly important roles” in human sociality. But dopamine is not a neuropeptide. Neither are serotonin or […]

Mmore from Ppnas

Kevin Lewis asks for my take on two new papers: Study 1: Honesty plays a key role in social and economic interactions and is crucial for societal functioning. However, breaches of honesty are pervasive and cause significant societal and economic problems that can affect entire nations. Despite its importance, remarkably little is known about the […]


Jochen Weber writes: As I follow your blog (albeit loosely), I figured I’d point out an “early release” paper from PNAS I consider to be “garbage” (at least by title, and probably by content). The short version is, the authors claim to have found the neural correlate of a person being “cognizant of” the outcome […]

Time Inc. stoops to the level of the American Society of Human Genetics and PPNAS?

Do anyone out there know anyone at Time Inc? If so, I have a question for you. But first the story: Mark Palko linked to an item from Barry Petchesky pointing out this article at the online site of Sports Illustrated Magazine. Here’s Petchesky: Over at Sports Illustrated, you can read an article about Tom […]

Good news! PPNAS releases updated guidelines for getting a paper published in their social science division

From zero to Ted talk in 18 simple steps: Rolf Zwaan explains how to do it! The advice is from 2013 but I think it still just might work. Here’s Zwaan: How to Cook up Your Own Social Priming Article 1. Come up with an idea for a study. Don’t sweat it. It’s not as […]

Hey, PPNAS . . . this one is the fish that got away.

Uri Simonsohn just turned down the chance to publish a paper that could’ve been published in a top journal (a couple years ago I’d’ve said Psychological Science but recently they’ve somewhat cleaned up their act, so let’s say PPNAS which seems to be still going strong) followed by features in NPR, major newspapers, BoingBoing, and […]

Researchers demonstrate new breakthrough in public relations, promoting a study before it appears in Psychological Science or PPNAS

Ivan Oransky pointed me to this press release: Study finds honesty varies significantly between countries Research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) has found that people’s honesty varies significantly between countries. It also suggests that honesty is less important to a country’s current economic growth than during earlier periods in history. The study examined […]

PPNAS: How does it happen? And happen? And happen? And happen?

In the comment thread to today’s post on journalists who take PPNAS papers at face value, Mark asked, in response to various flaws pointed out in one of these papers: How can the authors (and the reviewers and the editor) not be aware of something so elementary? My reply: Regarding the authors, see here. Statistics […]

Ahhhh, PPNAS!

To busy readers: Skip to the tl;dr summary at the end of this post. A psychology researcher sent me an email with subject line, “There’s a hell of a paper coming out in PPNAS today.” He sent me a copy of the paper, “Physical and situational inequality on airplanes predicts air rage,” by Katherine DeCelles […]

This controversial hydroxychloroquine paper: What’s Lancet gonna do about it?

Peer review is not a form of quality control In the past month there’s been a lot of discussion of the flawed Stanford study of coronavirus prevalence—it’s even hit the news—and one thing came up was that the article under discussion was just a preprint—it wasn’t even peer reviewed! For example, in a NYT op-ed: […]

2 perspectives on the relevance of social science to our current predicament: (1) social scientists should back off, or (2) social science has a lot to offer

Perspective 1: Social scientists should back off This is what the political scientist Anthony Fowler wrote the other day: The public appetite for more information about Covid-19 is understandably insatiable. Social scientists have been quick to respond. . . . While I understand the impulse, the rush to publish findings quickly in the midst of […]

Resolving the cathedral/bazaar problem in coronavirus research (and science more generally): Could we follow the model of genetics research (as suggested by some psychology researchers)?

The other day I wrote about the challenge in addressing the pandemic—a worldwide science/engineering problem—using our existing science and engineering infrastructure, which is some mix of government labs and regulatory agencies, private mega-companies, smaller companies, university researchers, and media entities and rich people who can direct attention and resources. The current system might be the […]

Coronavirus: the cathedral or the bazaar, or the cathedral and the bazaar?

Raghu Parthasarathy writes: I’ve been frustrated by Covid-19 pandemic models, for the opposite reason that I’m usually frustrated by models in science—they seem too simple, when the usual problem with models is over-complexity. Instead of doing more useful things, I wrote this up here. In his post, Parthasarathy writes: Perhaps the models we’re seeing are […]

“I don’t want ‘crowd peer review’ or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “It’s just too burdensome and I’d rather have a more formal peer review process.”

I understand the above quote completely. Life would be so much simpler if my work was just reviewed by my personal friends and by people whose careers are tied to mine. Sure, they’d point out problems, but they’d do it in a nice way, quietly. They’d understand that any mistakes I made would never have […]

Marc Hauser: Victim of statistics?

I have no idea; this is just a theory. In the past, when disgraced primatologist Marc Hauser has come up in this space, it’s been because he “fabricated data, manipulated experimental results, and published falsified findings” (in the words of the Department of Health and Human Services, as quoted by wikipedia), juxtaposed with the whole […]