Wandering Eye: Baltimore protesters to cop: 'What are those?', psychology takes it on the chin, and more

Journalists aren't the only sinners when it comes to favoring the novel, the counterintuitive, and the flat-out bogus over boring old common sense. Scientists do the same—and for the same reason: pressure to stand out. That is the implication of a study released last week that tried to replicate 100 previous studies in psychology. Only about one-third stood up. "The vetted studies were considered part of the core knowledge by which scientists understand the dynamics of personality, relationships, learning and memory," The New York Times noted. "The report appears at a time when the number of retractions of published papers is rising sharply in wide variety of disciplines. Scientists have pointed to a hypercompetitive culture across science that favors novel, sexy results and provides little incentive for researchers to replicate the findings of others, or for journals to publish studies that fail to find a splashy result." The field of psychology took it on the chin. Social media came alive with the usual jokes about soft science. But psychologists did the scientific thing—accepting results, pledging improvement in the way they work. "We knew there were many results that were too good to be true," said Jelte Wicherts, an associate professor in the department of statistics and methods at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands, in a follow-up story in the Times. "It's interesting. I've just joined a faculty where the young researchers, they've completely changed their ways. They share all their data on request, without any regulations; they put everything online before sending out papers for review. It's a grass-roots effort." There's a lesson here . . . somewhere. But will it make anyone a star? (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Earlier this week, we told you about the movie "Concussion" and how it would make the NFL look really bad. Well, the NFL probably won't be as upset about it as we thought, because as The New York Times reports, Sony Pictures altered the film so they wouldn't upset the league. According to emails released by hackers, the moviemakers changed "the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league." As the Times points out, this is especially strange because Sony, "unlike most other major studios in Hollywood has no significant business ties to the N.F.L." The director, Peter Landesman, contends, "There was never an instance where we compromised the storytelling to protect ourselves from the N.F.L." Guess we'll have to wait and see when the movie is released in theaters in December. (Brandon Weigel)


Are you aware of the "What are those?" meme? If you're not, let us explain real quick. It's basically a thing you yell when someone has a corny or iffy pair of shoes on. It began somewhere on the internet when someone walked up to a police officer and said, "Officer, I got one question for you," and then whipped the camera down to the cop's Frankenstein-esque shoes and shouted, "what are those?" It quickly spread and has become a shoe-shaming meme that is all over the place. Sometimes, it's done on unsuspecting victims who just have whack sneakers on, and other times, it's turned into a comedic skit. And there is also a "Jurassic Park"-themed one in which someone has sloppily added sneakers to footage of walking dinosaurs from the movie and then sings in auto-tune, "what are those" to the tune of the "Jurassic Park" score. Anyway, at yesterday's protest, which was just disastrously handled by the police, an officer in a pair of blue and white sneakers strolled up toward the protest and was met by shouts of "What are those" from a few kids in the protest. Even amid all the chaos, a meme snuck through. (Brandon Soderberg)

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