Barbara Spellman

Psychology: Science in Spite of Itself


UVA Law Faculty Affiliations

Barbara A. Spellman


Chris Chambers's portrait should sit high on the wall of heroes in the movement to reform science. A cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist, Chambers has had an important role as an editor and advocate in identifying, challenging and changing practices responsible for the reproducibility crisis.

Many fields of science — social, life, physical and medical — have had to acknowledge in recent years that much of their published research is not replicable (see M. Munafò Nature 543, 619–620; 2017). Psychological science was hit hard by that problem early this decade. But it quickly joined the vanguard of reform. In The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology — part history, part autobiography, largely manifesto — Chambers identifies some “sins”, from biased reasoning to outright fraud, that led us to this point. And he describes specific reforms, some already well under way, that will make science more transparent, accessible and reproducible. As he shows, the sins are (mostly) not those of individual scientists, but of the processes and incentive structures under which scientists work.


Barbara A. Spellman, Psychology: Science in Spite of Itself (reviewing Chris Chambers, The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology: A Manifesto for Reforming the Culture of Scientific Practice) 544 Nature 414-415 (2017).

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