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PNAS is just another blog

The police department, is like a crew
It does whatever they want to do
In society you have illegal and legal
We need both, to make things equal
So legal is tobacco, illegal is speed
Legal is aspirin, illegal is weed
Crack is illegal, cause they cannot stop ya
But cocaine is legal if it’s owned by a doctor
Everything you do in private is illegal
Everything’s legal if the government can see you
Don’t get me wrong, America is great place to live
But listen to the knowledge I give . . .
— BDP.

Someone pointed me to an iffy paper edited by Susan Fiske appearing in PNAS. At first I was annoyed. One more??? Himmicanes, air rage, ages ending in 9, and all the rest . . . that’s not enough for Fiske? She’s taking a break from name-calling and spreading lies to promote more junk science???

But then I thought, nah, it’s all good. PNAS is Fiske’s journal, just like Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science is my blog. I can publish anything I want here. Through years of diligent effort, I have built an audience of people who will read what my colleagues and I write here, and who will give us a hearing, even if they don’t always agree with us (and even if we, the bloggers here, don’t always agree with each other).

Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences has, through many years of diligent effort, built an effective brand. They decided in their wisdom to give publishing power to Susan Fiske, and she uses that power to promote a certain kind of science. I’d call it junk science or pseudoscience or scientism; I guess Fiske and her colleagues at Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, etc., would call it the real stuff. In any case, PNAS is their journal! To be upset that PNAS publishes unsupported claims in social science would be like being upset that Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science publishes too many cat pictures.

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