Experimenter Bias

There is a study newly released that purports to link willingness to honor social distance guidelines during the present Wuhan Virus situation to our mental capacity in retaining multiple pieces of potentially conflicting information in our head, which is referred to as working memory capacity.

What interests me isn’t so much the nature of this paper as an example of the publish or perish paradigm of what passes for scholarship in what passes for academia today. Nor is it the purported linkage.

It’s this claim by the lead author, Weizhen Xie, a postdoc at the National Institutes of Health:

As a researcher in cognitive psychology, I feel that it is our duty to figure out why some people follow the developing norm of social distancing while others ignore it.

Xie needs first to investigate the role or experimenter bias in forming hypotheses. A researcher in cognitive psychology should know better.

There is no “developing norm of social distancing.” Social distancing is only temporary stopgap for interrupting an infection cycle.

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