When I attended my first scientific conference at the tender age of 20, one of my mentors surprised me with the following bit of advice. Transcribed directly from memory:
“You should be sure to attend the talk by so-and-so. You can always trust his results.”
This casual remark made a deep impression on me. What did trust have to do with anything? This was supposed to be science! Based on evidence! It shouldn’t have mattered who performed the experiment, who delivered the talk or whose name was on the ensuing publication.
As my training in experimental psychology advanced, I encountered the same idea in various forms. Some findings were taken more seriously than others, usually based on which lab produced them. And it wasn’t simply a matter of prestige, like the quality of the journal in which a paper was published, or how famous the authors were. It also wasn’t about friendship and it was rarely about ideology. It was a more basic form of trust in the quality and soundness of the research.
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