From the Introduction by Charles Ortleb
The controversial Manhattan cartoonist, Julian Lake, is often too busy (i.e. at brunch) to read The New York Times Sunday Magazine, but on October 22, 2017 the cover image of social psychologist Amy Cuddy was so intriguing that he made a point of saving that part of the paper when he threw the rest of the weekly tonnage into the trash. To say that he basically levitated when he got around to reading it is an understatement. We will now peel him off the ceiling
In “When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy,” Susan Dominus details the plight of a social psychology scientist who had the misfortune to get caught in the crosshairs of a transformational moment of truth in the zany “science” of social psychology. While Cuddy’s personal story is colorful, it is the scientific revolution in social psychology that captured Julian Lake’s imagination so intensely that the only thing he could do is grab a pen and start creating a new batch of irreverent cartoons.
Julian Lake’s life changed forever when he read, “Since 2011, a methodological reform movement has been rattling the field [of social psychology], raising the possibility that vast amounts of research, even entire subfields, might be unreliable. Up-and-coming social psychologists, armed with new statistical sophistication, picked up the cause of replications, openly questioning the work their colleagues conducted under a now-outdated set of assumptions. The culture in the field, once cordial and collaborative, became openly combative, as scientists adjusted to new norms of public critique which still struggling to adjust to new standards of evidence.” In response, not since Tina Turner first sang “Proud Mary” has Julian Lake busted such a move.
In those words, Julian Lake saw the glimmer of a future he thought would never ever come. When I interviewed him in his cluttered studio in Hell’s Kitchen, he said excitedly, “This is exactly what is needed in the field of AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome research. OMG! It is already happening in the field of social psychology! It’s a dress rehearsal for the revolution that is needed in the corrupt world of AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome research. I feel young again!”
Dominus details how Cuddy’s work on something called “power posing” was subject to uncompromising scrutiny and put into question. According to Dominus, young researcher Amy Cuddy was one of the early victims of a nasty not-so-little revolution in which social scientists were “forced to confront the fear that what they were doing all those years may not have been entirely scientific.” Suddenly, dancing in Julian Lake’s head were visions of AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome scientists “forced to confront the fear that what they were doing all those years may not have been entirely scientific.”
Cuddy came up with the idea that if one makes oneself looks strong and confident, one will end up feeling more confident and project an image of success which will often end up making one more successful. She called it “power posing.” Julian Lake quipped, “I know a few drag queens who could have taught Cuddy a thing or two about that.”
Unfortunately for Cuddy, according to Dominus, her paper on “power posing” arrived on the scene just as a group of bold young scientists (i.e. meanies) had determined “that the enemy of science – subjectivity – had burrowed its way into the field’s methodology more deeply than had been recognized.” Julian Lake told me he could suddenly see an army of moles peeking out from the field of AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome methodology. ¬ “You can’t walk across the field of AIDS and Chronic Fatigue syndrome without falling into a rabbit hole of subjectivity.