33: Zombie theories

Episode 33 · December 16th, 2016 · 43 mins 53 secs

About this Episode

Dan and James discuss Zombie theories, which are scientific ideas that continue to live on in the absence of evidence. Why do these ideas persist and how do we kill them for good?

Some of the topics covered:

  • Why do some ideas live on?
  • Zombie theories in heart rate variability research
  • Reasons why zombie theories proliferate more in the social sciences
  • Attractiveness and simplicity
  • Theories become brands
  • Oxytocin zombie theories
  • The power of shaming
  • Ideas are corrected more quickly in smaller fields
  • James' new interest in Cow ECG
  • People using science as a weapon to open up hip pockets
  • How do we kill these zombies for good?
  • Manual vs. automated PubMed comments
  • What's the impact of paper retraction on future citations?
  • How do you correct the scientific record?


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