They Give You This, But You Pay For That

Academics are under enormous stress right now, raising the possibility of a rising rate of burnout. Longtime structural trends in higher education have increased pressures for demonstrable productivity. On top of that are a global pandemic, resistance and backlash to calls for racial justice, and unstable politics in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. In this episode we discuss burnout in academia. We focus on an emerging perspective from the healthcare field that describes burnout as resulting from moral injury. How is this idea relevant to people working in academia? In what ways can we be hurt by being trapped between the ideals and values that brought us into the field and the demands of our working environments? What can we do about it? Plus: A letter about reviewing papers from the global south that do not fit into the usual discourse.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 85. It was recorded on September 16/17 (US/AUS), 2020.

An Award-Winning Episode

Academics love awards. We give out career awards, mid-career awards, early-career awards. We give out awards for the best paper, the best theory, the best teaching, the best service. But what function do all those awards serve? And are we the better for having them? In this episode we talk about how awards fit into the academic ecosystem. How do recipients benefit from them? How do they help the organizations and research communities that give them out? What kinds of biases are baked into the system, and how can we counteract them? Should we consider radically changing how academic awards work, or even doing away with them? Plus: We answer a letter about why academia and policy research have such different norms around checking their numbers.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 84. It was recorded on September 2/3 (US/AUS), 2020.

Contact Sport

The contact hypothesis is an old idea in social psychology. It posits that under the right circumstances, bringing people from different groups together can reduce prejudice. In this episode, we discuss a new field experiment by Salma Mousa testing whether putting Iraqi Christians and Muslims on soccer teams together can rebuild social cohesion after war. Part of our conversation focuses on the direct implications of this work for the contact hypothesis. We also discuss how this study stands out against some common patterns in social science research. Why, despite the long history of research and intuitive appeal of the contact hypothesis, have no studies like this been done before? How did this paper benefit from integrating rigorous quantitative methods with a careful understanding of history and context? How did a commitment to not just the letter, but also the spirit, of preregistration keep the conclusions aligned so well with the data? Plus: We answer a letter about whether the COVID pandemic means this is an especially bad time to start a Ph.D. program.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 83. It was recorded on August 19/20 (US/AUS), 2020.

Does Not Compute

Scientific journal articles have a lot of numbers. Scientists are smart people with even smarter computers, so an outsider might think that, if nothing else, you can count on the math checking out. But modern data analysis is complicated, and computational reproducibility is far from guaranteed. In this episode, we discuss a recent set of articles published at the journal Cortex. A group of authors set out to replicate an influential 2010 article that claimed that if you reactivate a fear-laden memory, it becomes possible to change the emotional association – something with clear relevance to clinical practice. Along the way, the replicating scientists encountered anomalies which led them to try to reproduce the analyses in the original study – and they discovered that they could not. We talk about what this means for science. What are the implications of knowing that for a nontrivial number if scientific studies, the math doesn’t add up? Will a new era of open data and open code be enough to fix the problem? How much will Verification Reports – a new publication format that Cortex has introduced – help with that process? Plus: We answer a letter about swinging for the fences when your dream job comes up but you don’t feel ready yet.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

 

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

 

This is episode 82. It was recorded on August 10, 2020.

Objective Unknown

How does psychology’s response to the replication crisis fit into a broader history of science? In this episode we discuss a paper by sociologists Jeremy Freese and David Peterson that takes on that question. Are “epistemic activists” in psychology redefining what it means to be objective in science? Does a focus on reforming incentives mean we view scientists as economic actors for whom motives and dispositions are irrelevant? Does the last decade’s growth in meta-research mean that meta-analysis is the new arbiter of objectivity? Does a shift to a systems perspective on science have parallels in other systemic analyses of institutions? Plus: We answer a letter about whether raising new concerns when you’re reviewing a revision is obligatory, a jerk move, or both.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 81. It was recorded on July 22, 2020.

The Impending Fall of Academia

The upcoming academic term will be unusual, to say the least. The global pandemic led to emergency shutdowns in March, and it is likely that many colleges and universities will continue teaching partially or wholly online. And protests against anti-Black racism in the United States and elsewhere have led to institutional statements about taking an antiracist stand – which may or may not translate into real change. In this episode, we discuss some of the changes and how we are thinking about them in our work. How did we adapt our teaching for remote learning, and what do we think fall will look like? What changes can we make to our teaching and service to be more antiracist? How can we stay focused and motivated when we’re acting as individuals against systemic problems? Plus, we answer a letter about working in the lab of your more senior and prominent partner. Simine chides her co-hosts over ignoring Southern Hemisphere seasons (and the one who writes episode titles promises to try harder, right after he gets this one pun out of his system). And Sanjay talks about coping with grief under social distancing.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 80. It was recorded on July 8, 2020.

Inexact Science

Scientific knowledge is always contingent and uncertain, even when it’s the best we have. Should that factor into how we communicate science to the public, and if so, how? We discuss a recent article about the effects of communicating uncertainty on people’s trust in scientific findings and scientists. When should and shouldn’t scientists communicate uncertainty, and how should they do it? How should scientists prioritize keeping people’s trust versus being up front about what they don’t know? What are the different sources of uncertainty in scientific knowledge, and how should scientists deal with all of them? Plus, we get a followup letter from someone who asked about career support for a nonacademic partner – and they share what they learned and how things worked out.

Link:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 79. It was recorded on April 27, 2020.

COVID Operations

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating major and serious disruptions to just about everything, and higher education is no exception. In this episode we talk about how our work has been affected by measures to slow down the coronavirus. How have we adjusted to remote teaching? What effects have the social distancing measures had on our research? How are we mentoring students in light of such an uncertain future? What bigger changes and disruptions could be in store for academia? Plus: We answer a letter about when and how students should draw on their expertise when their advisor is in a different discipline.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 78. It was recorded on April 7, 2020.

Joe Public, Will You Marry Me?

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about public trust in science – how much there is, in what ways, whether we deserve it or not. In this episode, we discuss an article by historian and philosopher Rachel Ankeny that asks whether “trust” is even the right concept to be talking about. What does it mean to trust an abstraction like “science”? When people argue about trust in science, are they even talking about the same thing – the findings, the people, the process, or something else? And we discuss Ankeny’s proposed alternative: that instead of the public’s trust, scientists should be seeking out engagement. What would an engagement model looks like? How would engagement benefit the public? How would it benefit science? And what about people who just wouldn’t want to engage? Plus: We answer a letter from someone who likes, but doesn’t love, teaching, and wants to know if that’s good enough for academia.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 77. It was recorded on March 26, 2020.

Just Be Cause

Many important questions about cause and effect are impractical to answer with a randomized experiment. What should we do instead? In this episode we talk about doing causal inference with observational data. Has psychology’s historical obsession with internal validity led it, ironically, to think about causal inference in an unsophisticated way? Can formal analytic tools like directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) tell us how to do better studies? Or is their main lesson don’t bother trying? How do norms and incentives in publishing help or hurt in doing better causal inference? Plus: We answer a letter about applying to psychology grad school when your background is in data science.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 76. It was recorded on March 16, 2020.