Cognitive Science Panel Discussion

Signal and Noise in Science

Presented by The Northwestern Cognitive Science Program and One Book One Northwestern.

    Thursday, April 27th
    Swift 107
    4:00pm
    Reception to Follow 

Signal and Noise

 Reproducibility is the cornerstone of science. If an effect is reliable, any competent researcher should be able to obtain it using the same procedures. Yet, many published results in psychology – as well as medicine, biology, chemistry, and other sciences – fade or vanish when tested in other laboratories. The primary purpose of science is the search for robust and consistent patterns in the noise. Yet, scientists are fallible, subject to the same biases, flawed intuitions, and statistical errors that affect everyday reasoning. Professor Daniel Simons (University of Illinois) will discuss how these reasoning errors have led to a reproducibility 'crisis' and how improved scientific practices can better filter the signal from the noise. His talk will be followed by a panel discussion among Prof. Simons and three Northwestern faculty: Jennifer Tackett, Blake McShane, and Eli Finkel.

Daniel Simons is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois. He conducts research on visual perception, attention, and awareness, and is the co-author of The Invisible Gorilla, And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us. He is an Associate Editor at the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science where he oversees the publication of Registered Replication Reports.

Jennifer Tackett is an Associate Professor of Psychology. She studies child and adolescent personality and how it is related to behavior, how it affects children and adolescents relationships with their friends and parents, and how early personality traits may be indicators of later common behavioral problems. She is an associate editor at the Journal of Personality and Perspectives in Psychological Science, and serves as a Associate Editor of Registered Replication Reports in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Blake McShane is an Associate Professor at the Kellogg School of Management. He has developed and applied statistical methodology to topics ranging from optimizing internet ad-serving algorithms to forecasting home runs in baseball. His work on replication includes developing methodology for sample size planning and meta-analysis as well as examining how academic researchers (mis)interpret statistical results. 


Eli Finkel 
is a Professor in the Psychology department and in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He has published 120+ papers in scholarly outlets, and publishes Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times and feature articles in Scientific American Mind. He serves as an associate editor of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.