I could have sworn there was a thread somewhere about the replication crisis in psychology, but I can’t find it now. Perhaps it was all in the shoutbox. Anyway, here’s an article:
Was the Stanford Prison Experiment a sham? Our Q&A with the writer who exposed the celebrated study
Now, the guy is a journalist, so one should take anything he says with as big a grain of salt as you take anything a shrink says…
What I find peculiar is that reality seems to bear out the conclusions of the prison experiment, even if the experiment itself was flawed. Or does it? Was Abu Ghraib the result of uniquely evil individuals? Or weak people who couldn’t refuse illegal orders? Did senior personnel ever actually order that the abuses take place?
One really needs to do a new Stanford experiment, except the thing is now so well known it would be difficult to get hold of subjects who don’t realize what it’s all about. Plus, there are probably ethical concerns.
My own experience in education suggested to me that a great deal of trouble results from systemic, institutional problems rather than individuals deliberately doing evil or just not caring. If going against the grain can cost you your job, there is a lot of pressure on you to conform, and just go through the same mindless facsimile of education as everyone else, even if you know or suspect that the school is actively doing harm. And this can happen even in institutions where every single individual is actually quite sincere and genuinely trying to do the right thing. Presumably it is much worse when there are a few poisonous individuals thrown into the mix.
The more I see of humans, the less I understand them…