A lot has been written about the crisis in social psychology, where Amy Cuddy has been made the poster girl for everything that went wrong. An artice in the NYT sums up the whole process, telling the story of how some researchers started asking questions as to the validity of much the statistical techniques and practices used in the field. While the article paints Cuddy as a more of a random victim than as a prime villain, it also makes clear that she handled change in the field poorly, defending her findings to the last.

She has now withdrawn from academia, quitting her position as a tenure track associate professor at Harvard; a harsh consequence for someone whose biggest fault was a lack of humility and openness to criticism.

It is worth noting that the study under criticism is only one of many studies, and not part of her most influential work, which is on stereotyping. So one can only wonder why she chose to stand to thelast defending the infamous 2010 paper? Perhaps because she so publicly promoted it, through TED talks and newspaper articles, creating a huge sunk cost, and potential loss of public reputation? Pulled between respect in the scientific community for accepting fault, and respect in the public arena, as a forward thinking guru and public speaker. In this case, she could not have both; and she suffered the consequence of her choice.

A lesson for all is that times change, methods and practices improve; and of past research some will be shown lacking or faulty, while other will stand the test of time. As long as one did ones best at the time the work was done, one should not mix ego with science. Welcome all new research, both that which supports and that which rejects. It might point to boundary conditions, it might indicate faults in the study, or it might show fault with practice. Such is science. Welcome it.



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