About Unsafe Science
You’ve been warned. Expressing ideas and findings do not make anyone “unsafe.” Supressing them, however, is dangerous for individuals, institutions, and the wider society.
This site is for people hungry for open evidence and reason-based discussions of all sorts of hot topics.
What I plan to post:
Debunking of scientific and social scientific claims and papers
Reinterpretation of results presented in scientific and social scientific papers
Perspectives on controversial social and political issues informed by social science findings, regardless of whose ox they gore
Occasional personal essays and slices of life.
I will be experimenting with what I post here, so this is subject to change.
I also *love* collaborating with people from across the political spectrum on politicized topics. This includes people who are not academics. That is, it might include YOU. As this project develops, I hope to use it to foster a community of people, including but not restricted to academic researchers, who are similarly committed to free and open inquiry and discourse.
About Lee Jussim
I am a social psychologist at Rutgers University New Brunswick and was Department Chair from 2010-2013 and 2018-2022. In a truly bizarre twist of fate, I also find myself Acting Chair of (of all things) the Anthropology Department at Rutgers for 2023-24. One of those things that should not need saying, but apparently does, is that the views presented at Unsafe Science are mine and those of the guest authors, and do not represent Rutgers University, its Psychology Department, its Anthropology Department, or any unit, school or organization at Rutgers. Although if you read any random two or three articles at Unsafe Science, and if you know anything about modern anthropology departments, it should become quickly obvious how this is a bit of a surreal state of affairs.
I have published or edited six academic books and well over 100 academic-type articles. I have also received numerous awards for scholarship and, until about a year ago, wrote for lay audiences at places like Psychology Today (where my free and publicly available essays have over a million page views), Quillette, Areomagazine, Aeon, and more. In response to the rising ideological orthodoxy-induced censoriousness within institutions that are supposedly committed to truthseeking, I am also one of the founding members of The Academic Freedom Alliance and the new Society for Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences, where I am Editor-in-Chief of the Society’s Journal of Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences. My research addresses stereotypes and prejudice, political radicalization, and reform of and dysfunctions within the social sciences.
I Tweet as The Dark Pirate Jussim, routinely addressing issues of free & open inquiry, good & bad social science, and, occasionally, getting into arguments with my colleagues. The moniker comes from having been suspended from Twitter for a few days for having tweeted this Bitmoji (high tech emoji) of myself as a pirate:
This apparently triggered his interlocuter. In response to the ridiculous suspension I adopted the pirate persona permanently. You can find the whole story here.
Truth, Social Science, Social Justice, Bullshit, and Open Inquiry
Social psychology has produced some of the worst bullshit under the name of (social) science ever produced. “Bullshit” has a specific meaning in academic scholarship. It does not mean “false” per se. It means “flagrant disregard for truth.” Replication Crisis. Implicit bias. Stereotype threat. Microaggressions. Intersectionality. Its not that these things are “wrong” — its that they are filled with bullshit.
But not everything is bullshit. Some is honest error. Some is merely exaggerated but holds grains of truth. And some is actually just plain true. The trick is, how can you tell which is which?
Truth is hard. From media bias to science subservient to politics, getting at truths is hard. Good reporting is hard. Good science is hard.
In our dystopian present, where you can be fired for a bad tweet or maladroit choice of phrasing, or even for a perfectly fine tweet and reasonable point, where academics’ published papers can be retracted if they cross the wrong set of activists, both the general public and scientists have become progressively more fearful of expressing themselves on controversial issues in public.
This newsletter will do my part to stem that tide. If there is a single theme here, it will be this: The best way to protect free inquiry and open discourse is to engage in it. Damn both the torpedoes and the grim-faced commissars of cancel culture.
You won’t have to worry about missing anything. Every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox. For now, this newsletter is completely free. I am, however, considering adding unique content for paid subscribers. More on this if I decide to go down this route (but even if I do, the main content will remain free).
Why I hope you’ll join
You will get a very unique take on what social science actually says, rather than what the groupthink says it says.
What you won’t get:
Censors, Fear, Ad Hominem, Reputational Smear, Whisper Campaigns.
You can subscribe for free here:
I also off a paid subscription option, for which you will receive subscriber-only posts (first one here) and other perks. I have committed to using 2/3 of subscriber income to support graduate and undergraduate student projects in my lab and also the mission of SOIBS, as described here.
Unsafe Science is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.