Andrew Gelman Asks, Does Criticizing Bad Research Do More Harm Than Good?

In a recent post at his blogsite, Statistical Modeling, Causal inference, and Social Science, Andrew Gelman asks whether his recent criticisms on statistical grounds of a prominent researcher’s experiments on healthy eating are doing more harm than good. The researcher, Brian Wansink, is John Dyson Endowed Chair in the Applied Economics and Management Department at Cornell University. His book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (2006), and associated research has been credited with having a positive impact on the eating habits of thousands (millions?) of consumers (see here). The arguments supporting the idea that criticisms, even when correct, can do more harm than good, are not new.  But they do get at the heart of science, and replications, and are worth a good think.  To read Gelman’s blog, click here.

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