Klaus Fiedler writes: „Unwarranted accusations: Putting the record straight“

I have written in my blog about "The Klaus thing" (the accusation of social psychologist Klaus Fiedler being a racist and abusing his editorial power as PPS editor) - now our senior professor Klaus Fiedler has written a response to the accusations. Here comes his text (further below, find his reply - in German - to "Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie"):

„As a personalized target of a social-media attack on twitter, leading to a petition, I was accused as racist, as a journal editor (of PPS), who abuses his editorial power and who violated alleged journal rules and diversity norms. I was not only forced to resign as Editor in Chief but also to tolerate insulting aggressions, threats to my scientific reputation and my personal dignity.

However, I also received many reinforcing affective support mails and reconfirmations from scholars all over the world, who expressed their appreciation of my ethical behavior and my editorial style, and started several counter movements in the social media. While I was always very grateful for what these colleagues have done for me, I only lately heard that some of them found I could have done more to rectify myself and to publicize my own perspective of the absurd accusations. I was told that I literally owe my friends such a rectifying statement, just because many important facts are simply unknown to many observers. 

Why I refrained so far from presenting my own perspective

The first and foremost reason why I never provided a counter-version or rectifying statement is that the entire episode was so absurd and surreal. I therefore expected that – in spite of, or exactly because of the wisdom of the social media crowd – it could only take a moment to recognize that there is virtually nothing to justify the accusation that I am a racist, or that I have abused editorial power and ignored existing journal rules.

The second, equally important reason was that APS, the organization who holds the PPS journal, never asked me for my version, and never engaged on what seems to be a self-evident rule of procedural justice, namely, to give the target of accusation a chance to reply and provide a counter statement – to be circulated in the same widespread channel as the accusations. Up to now, nobody asked for my version.

The third reason was that, as a social psychologist, I did not want to play the role of a defendant, which presupposes that there are reasons to be defensive. Taking a defendant role might induce a hindsight effect, that is, a reconstructive memory illusion driven by the outcome scenario in which I am the defendant. In contrast, my understanding was always that I am the victim, not the potential perpetrator in a malicious play.

Fourth, I did assume, and I continue to assume, that there are ethical reasons not to blatantly reveal confidential details about editorial processes. Peer reviewing and the entire editorial correspondence strikes me as a matter of trust (and academic responsibility), preventing me from talking in public about my editorial strategy and my correspondence with other reviewers. In this particular case, though, after the entire editorial correspondence was publicized anyway, confidentiality constraints no longer prevent me from the following clarifying comments.

Finally, I have to admit that I missed an important point that motivates my supporters’ claim. Not only many observers but also many “prosecutors”, who signed the petition against me, may simply not know many crucial facts.

In an attempt to be as concise as possible in the remainder of this note, I first provide some background information about the editorial project that led to this serious conflict, before I point out that there can be no evidence whatsoever to justify the harsh sanctions postulated in the petition. In the end, I briefly comment on the typical misunderstandings fostered by an uploaded “preprint” by Roberts, which triggered the wide-spread social-media response.

  • The editorial project was well-motivated: A recently published article by Hommel, arguing that diversity is a multidimensional concept, whereas a previous article by Roberts had interpreted diversity largely in terms of race discrimination, promised to open a fruitful discussion forum. To instigate this discussion forum, all three reviewers of the Hommel article were invited to submit a publishable version of their reviews, along with a comment by Roberts. The entire project lasted about half a year, during which no conflict could be anticipated. All contributions were accepted for publication, pending some editorial quality control of the finally submitted comment by Roberts – the only comment that could not be read by any other discussant before. The purpose of this quality control was to protect authors from detecting embarrassing inconsistencies only after print. Roberts was assured repeatedly that the “quality control” was not a review process; the acceptance of his comment did not depend on Hommels’ evaluation.
  • Roberts then uploaded his comment, preceded by a “case study” in which my name was dropped abundantly, although he never accused me explicitly of racism, abuse of editorial power or any other violation of specific editorial norms. The end of the uploaded article was a protocol of the editorial correspondence. It is noteworthy that his version of the editorial process is largely congruent with my own version, which only includes some comments on the editorial goals. Both versions clearly reveal that my editorial style was friendly, impartial, fair, and driven by the motive to trigger a fruitful discussion forum, leading to novel insights and implications on the scientific discourse on diversity. It is hard to see what aspect of my editorial action (i.e., what verbal action) justifies any of the harsh accusations in the petition. As the entire affair refers to the discussion forum and no other editorial violation action was ever specified, the reasons for accusations can only be found in this editorial protocol, which covers virtually all my manifest actions.

My commented version of the editorial correspondence can be found in https://heibox.uni-heidelberg.de/f/3541c5faa7ed44d487dc/?dl=1

Readers can alternatively refer to the appendix of the “preprint” uploaded by Roberts.

  • As already mentioned, though, evidence against my editorial style or decisions can be not even found in the uploaded article. The malicious and highly personalized social-media attack mainly reflects an extremely low threshold for unwarranted constructive inferences of social-media users, probably facilitated by APS’ premature tendency to accept the underlying protest … in the absence of any solid evidence and without asking the witch to provide her own version in an unbelievable witch hunt.

To undo but the most obvious mistakes and misinterpretations of the entire affair and to put the record straight, I append here a list of obvious facts that may not be common:

  • The planned discussion forum was not a critique of Roberts’ former article but the potential of Hommels’ recent call for a broader perspective on diversity
  • The three reviewers whose comments were published in the discussion forum were by no means the only ones whom I had asked to review the Hommel paper. Several others – Roberts included – declined.
  • I nevertheless invited Roberts to participate as a further commentator in the discussion forum.
  • I am neither personally related to the reviewers invited for the discussion forum nor did I ever do joint research with one of them. The unwarranted impression that I may personally like these scholars relies on emails I use to send out to all my reviewers, who are doing honorary work for me. Hundreds of scholars have received these personally committal and overly grateful mails, which go beyond superficial thank-you letters. I would have never expected that these mails – for which I received many compliments – could be misunderstood as reflecting a bias in favor of selected reviewers.
  • It is simply not true that the journal’s Editor in Chief cannot publish comments without additional peer reviewing. Immediately accepted articles are as wanted by the journal as immediate desk rejections.
  • I never rejected any submission by Roberts. On the contrary, I always stressed that his comment is accepted. The final “quality control” was exclusively meant to protect authors from embarrassing inconsistencies when articles go to print without sufficient control.
  • I intended the entire thread of publications to start a scientific discussion, not to end it in favor of one side or the other. This open-minded goal must have been evident from my announcements.

The critical question, to reiterate, is whether any of my editorial actions documented here and in the attached file, or in any other source of cogent evidence, justify any of the harsh claims propagated in the petition.“

Nachtrag 26.1.2023: Die APS hat nochmals eine Erklärung „Further Clarifications“ zu dem Vorgang abgegeben:


Und auf eine DGPs-Fachgruppen-Rundmail von Juliane Degner, Vorsitzende der DGPs-Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie, hat Klaus Fiedler folgendes geantwortet (revidierte Fassung, 28.1.23, 20:49):

Reaktion auf das jüngste DGPs Rundschreiben von Juliane Degner 

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen in der Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie!

Obwohl ich des Themas überdrüssig bin und endlich wieder zur Ruhe und zu einer konstruktiven Arbeit kommen will, habe ich das jüngste DGPs-Rundschreiben der Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie mit einigem Interesse gelesen. Immerhin war das lange meine Lieblingsgesellschaft, und ich war auch einmal der Fachgruppensprecher … 

Über meinen editorischen Stil

Ich muss sagen, ich bin schockiert zu hören, dass es hier einen „Interessenkonflikt“ gibt und eine „starke Polarisierung“ – alles ohne jegliche solide Evidenz dafür, welche Kommunikation, Handlung oder Entscheidung meinerseits die (beleidigende, extrem unfaire, rufschädigende und ehrverletzende) Bezichtigung rechtfertigen würde, dass ich ein Rassist bin (wie absurd), dass ich meine editorische Macht missbraucht habe (welcher Missbrauch?), gegen vermeintliche Normen des Journal (PPS) verstoßen habe (die es gar nicht gibt). Alles was ich in der besagten Angelegenheit gesagt, geschrieben und entschieden habe, war ja vertraulich (wie alle editorische Information), wurde aber ungeachtet aller Vertraulichkeit doch veröffentlicht.

Daher müsste es möglich sein, deutlich zu sagen, welche meiner klar dokumentierten Aussagen oder Handlungen die schlimmen Vorwürfe rechtfertigen. Mit welcher konkreten Aussage war ich rassistisch, habe ich Macht missbraucht, habe ich gegen welche Regeln verstoßen? – In den nunmehr über sechs Wochen seit dem Eklat hat mir niemand, NIEMAND, auf klar artikulierte, evidenzbasierte Weise mitgeteilt, welches partikuläre Verhalten meinerseits eigentlich Anlass sein könnte für die massiven Vorwürfe. Das Ganze bleibt völlig obskur und losgelöst von allen konkreten Belegen, obwohl mein gesamter Schriftverkehr ja offengelegt wurde. Wer sich die Mühe macht, die paar Seiten zu lesen, wird zweifelsfrei feststellen – das attestieren zahlreiche Zeugen – dass mein editorischer Stil stets freundlich, fair, kooperativ, unvoreingenommen und wohl motiviert war. Mir wurde niemals ein Beleg für das Gegenteil geliefert.

Angesichts der Vertraulichkeit der Vorgänge, über die hier geurteilt wird, mit schlimmen Konsequenzen für den betroffenen Herausgeber, kann doch niemand ein überprüfbares Faktenwissen haben, das über die Sachverhalte in der angehängten und der verlinkten Datei hinausgeht. Ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, wie ein ethisch verantwortlicher Vorwurf durch dieses Hintergrundwissen begründet werden kann. Ich kann mir auch nicht vorstellen, welches andere Wissen jemand aus welcher Quelle haben könnte, einmal abgesehen von wilden Schlüssen aus dem niemals kritisch überprüften Twitter-Angriff …

Über die Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie

Mit Interesse lese ich, dass die Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie (oder ihre Sprecherinnen) hier an einem Format einer Stellungnahme arbeiten, “das einen Diskurs über die vielen unterschiedlichen Aspekte dieser Debatte ermöglicht.“ Ich bin gespannt, ob diese versprochene Offenheit „für die vielen unterschiedlichen Aspekte“ einschließt, dass neben den angeblichen (niemals aufgezeigten) ethischen Verfehlungen des Beschuldigten vielleicht auch die Ethik einer falschen oder unbegründeten Beschuldigung und massiven Ehrverletzung untersucht werden soll, oder die Ethik von mündigen Wissenschaftler*innen, die ohne kritische Überprüfung und Evidenz eine so schwerwiegende Petition unterschreiben, oder die Ethik von Aktionen, die die Vertraulichkeit und damit das Vertrauen in das Peer-Reviewing System unterminieren, oder Aktionen, die einem Beklagten nicht das prozedurale Grundrecht einräumen, eine Gegendarstellung zu geben, bevor man an die Öffentlichkeit geht.

Hier geht es natürlich um Vorurteile – ein durch und durch sozialpsychologisches Thema. Man könnte daher die Vertreter*innen der Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie bei der Ehre packen und fragen, wo sie im Jahre 2023 relativ zur Geschichte einer Hexenjagd im späten Mittelalter stehen. Muss sich nur die Person erklären („einer Anhörung“ unterziehen), die beschuldigt wurde, eine Hexe zu sein, oder vielleicht auch die Ankläger, Auslöser und die unkritischen Mitläufer der Hexenjagd – einmal ganz abgesehen von der ethischen Notwendigkeit, schwerwiegendste Vorwürfe durch prüfbarer Evidenz zu begründen. 

Sollte „meine“ Fachgruppe einen solchen offenen, nicht vorurteilig auf die (vielleicht völlig unschuldige) Hexe fokussierten ethischen Diskurs aber nicht anstreben, dann frage ich mich ernsthaft, ob man als Sozialpsychologe einer solchen Fachgruppe weiterhin angehören möchte. Sollten indessen wirklich alle möglichen Spieler*innen in die Klärung des Spiels einbezogen werden, dann bin ich gerne behilflich, etwa Fragen für die „Anhörung“ von Petitions-Unterzeichnenden vorzuschlagen, die Rechenschaft über verantwortbares Handeln abgeben sollen.

Was passiert hier eigentlich?

Vielleicht fehlt es ja einfach an ausreichendem Weltwissen darüber, was in Sachen „Diversität“ in den USA gerade alles passiert. Ich habe fast zweihundert internationale Emails bekommen, deren Autor*innen mir persönlich immer wieder ihr Vertrauen aussprechen und viel Unterstützung anbieten, auch viel Scham zeigen für die heutige Situation und Mitgefühl für meine Lage, und denen allen offenbar völlig klar ist, was für ein wahnwitziges Spiel hier stattfindet, mit vielen Beispielen für andere Betroffene. Warum findet sich diese Weisheit eigentlich nicht auch in der hiesigen Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie? Nach der jüngsten Rundmail hat es jedenfalls nicht den Anschein, als ob irgendjemand aus weit über hundert Sozialpsycholog*innen auch einmal solche Weisheit an den Tag legt … Gibt es denn in dieser Fachgruppe nicht auch Mitglieder, die erkennen, wer hier in der Offensive und in der Defensive ist, wer hier Opfer ist oder potenzieller Täter, wie viele Spieler in diesem Spiel wirklich nachweisbar gegen fundamentale ethische Prinzipien und Rechtsnormen verstoßen haben und wer nicht die geringsten Verstöße begangen hat, und von welchem umfassenderen Syndrom das Ganze hier nur ein Symptom ist?

Klaus Fiedler

— hier die Rundmail der Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie, auf die Bezug genommen wird:

Liebe Kolleg*innen,

Wir wurden in den letzten Wochen und Tagen mehrfach angesprochen und aufgefordert, eine Stellungnahme zu verschiedenen Aspekten um die Rücktrittsforderung und den erfolgten Rücktritt von Klaus Fiedler von PoPs abzugeben. Wir haben uns aktiv dazu entschieden, dies nicht zu tun. Dafür gibt es mehrere Gründe, die wir hier kurz erläutern wollen.

Zum einen sieht die Satzung der DGPs vor, dass öffentliche Stellungnahmen ausschliesslich über den Vorstand der DGPs erfolgen; in vielen Fällen unter Mitwirkung einzelner Fachgruppen und deren Leitungen. Wir (Ilka Gleibs & Juliane Degner) haben den Vorstand direkt am 05.12.22 kontaktiert, ihn aufgefordert eine Stellungnahme nach Anhörung von Klaus Fiedler zu verfassen und angeboten daran mitzuwirken. Der Vorstand hat dann mit einiger Verzögerung zwei Stellungnahmen abgegeben, wir waren nicht an deren Erstellung beteiligt. Wir haben unseren Protest gegen diese mangelnde Einbeziehung der Fachgruppe bei der Erarbeitung der Stellungnahme gegenüber dem Vorstand ausgedrückt und dabei auch persönliche Rückmeldung zum Inhalt der Stellungnahme gegeben.
Es gab in der Vergangenheit immer wieder Diskussionen und Kritik an dieser Vorgabe aus der Satzung – nicht nur aus unserer Fachgruppe – und wir werden dieses Thema weiterhin mit dem Vorstand diskutieren und auf eine Änderung der Satzung in diesem Punkt drängen.

Zum anderen erscheint es uns unmöglich, zum aktuellen Zeitpunkt eine Stellungnahme im Namen der Fachgruppe zu formulieren, die tatsächlich von allen Mitgliedern oder der Mehrheit der Mitglieder tragbar wäre, da die Einstellungen innerhalb der Fachgruppe sehr unterschiedlich und mittlerweile auch stark polarisiert sind. Daraus ergibt sich für uns ein nicht auflösbarer Interessenkonflikt zwischen der Repräsentanz der Fachgruppe und der Freiheit, unsere eigene Meinung in diesen Diskurs einzubringen. Wir werden uns daher nicht in unseren Funktionen als Sprecherinnen dieser Fachgruppe äussern. Dies wird uns jedoch nicht davon abhalten, im eigenen Namen zu sprechen, wenn wir das für richtig und angemessen erachten, und dies gegebenenfalls auch öffentlich zu tun.

Wir arbeiten derzeit an einem Format, das einen Diskurs über die vielen unterschiedlichen Aspekte dieser Debatte ermöglicht, gegebenenfalls im Rahmen der Countdown-Reihe. Wir bitten um Verständnis, dass dies einige Zeit in Anspruch nimmt. Wir freuen uns über jede konstruktive Form der Rückmeldung und Kritik, die helfen können, die aktuelle Polarisierung unter unseren Mitgliedern zu überwinden.

mit besten Grüssen,
Juliane Degner
(im Namen des Sprecher:innen-Teams)

Nachtrag 30.1.2023: Es gibt einen neuen „Offenen Brief“ an den APS-Vorstand:

From: IUSTITIA PSYCH <iustitia.psych@gmail.com> 
Sent: Monday, 30 January 2023 6:05 PM
To: gopnik@berkeley.eduwendy.wood@usc.edu
Cc: ivry@berkeley.eduRachael.Jack@glasgow.ac.ukjohn.jost@nyu.edulombrozo@princeton.edu;EJ.Wagenmakers@gmail.comspollak@wisc.eduayanna.thomas@tufts.edujwerker@psych.ubc.ca;rgropp@psychologicalscience.org

OPEN LETTER TO THE  Board of Directors, and the President and President-Elect of the Association of Psychological Science Profs. Alison Gopnik and Wendy Wood, 

Dear Alison and Wendy,

We are writing to express our deep concern about your decision to summarily dismiss Klaus Fiedler as editor of PoPS. Having considered all the evidence available to us, we feel that the Association’s actions were unfair, unjustified and a complete denial of due process and the kind objectivity and rationality that one can reasonably expect from a scientific association.

Editors should always have a great deal of latitude in selecting reviewers and deciding how to deal with a manuscript. Fiedler’s actions suggest that he hoped to get an informed discussion going on the pages of PoPS on a vitally important topic – the forceful political infusion of ideological positions into what should be an objective and rational science.

As far as the evidence is available, Fiedler has not done anything to justify his instant dismissal. The reviewers he selected were chosen based on merit and their proven expertise. The fact that they were all critical of Roberts‘ ideologically driven research in no way indicates bias. They all offered detailed and reasonable justifications for their assessments.

Roberts‘ suggestion that their status as ’senior white males‘ had anything to do with their critical assessment of his work is itself racist. Racial status should play no role in selecting reviewers as Roberts implies, nor are editors obliged to seek more favorable reviews to balance the unfavorable ones.

The APS in almost instantly dismissing Fiedler acted in a reprehensible way that is not fitting for a scientific association. Your action represents a complete betrayal of fundamental principles of fairness, due process and objectivity, as the German Psychological Association also stated. Members have not been consulted, the process was not open and transparent, and Fiedler was not given adequate opportunity to explain his actions. 

Even more worrying is that hundreds of our colleagues signed a petition demanding Fiedler’s dismissal, without having the benefit of hearing his explanation. We should all be profoundly concerned by this serious violation of fundamental academic principles by our own scientific association.

We request that you revisit this issue, give Fiedler equal chance to explain his actions, and publish both sides of the case so that all members of APS can have access to the relevant facts and make up their mind accordingly. In particular, those who rushed to judgment without full information should have an opportunity to reconsider their position. We look forward to your urgent response.

With best wishes,

Prof. R.I.M. Dunbar, University of Oxford, UK

Prof. Mario Mikulincer, Reichman University, Israel

Professor Catherine Salmon, University of Redlands

Prof. Joachim Krueger, Brown University, USA

Prof. Geoffrey Miller, University of New Mexico, APS Fellow

Prof. Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern School of Business

Prof. Pamela Paresky, Johns Hopkins University 

Prof. Roy Baumeister, University of Queensland

Prof. Joseph Forgas, Psychology, UNSW, Sydney

Prof. Brad Bushman, Ohio State University

Sally Satel MD, Yale University School of Medicine

Prof. Lee Jussim, Rutgers University

Prof. Yair Amichai-Hamburger, Reichman University

Prof. Peter Swan, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Prof. Nira Lieberman, University of Tel Aviv

Prof. Gun Semin, Utrecht University

Prof. Keith Stanovich, University of Toronto

Prof. Dr. W. Stroebe, University of Groningen

Prof. Michael Mills, Loyola Marymount University

Prof. George Paxinos, NEURA, Australia

Prof. Steven Pinker, Harvard University

Prof. Bernhard Hommel, University of Dresden

Prof. Paula J. Stanovich, Portland State University

Prof. Gilad Hirschberger, Reichman University

Prof. Patrizia Catellani, Catholic University of Milan

Prof. Yavor Paunov, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

Prof. Csaba Pleh, Central European University, Vienna

Prof. Mark van Vugt, Free University of Amsterdam

Prof. Steve Stewart-Williams, University of Nottingham Malaysia

Prof. George Marcus, Williams College, USA

Prof. Joel Cooper, Princeton University

Prof. Ken Sheldon, University of Missouri, USA

Prof. Anna Krylov, University of Southern California

Prof. Doug Kenrick, Arizona State University

Bill Frezza, MIT Free Speech Alliance

Prof. Bob Maranto

Prof. Marco Del Giudice, University of New Mexico, USA

Prof. J. Michael Bailey, Northwestern University

Prof. Joseph H. Manson, University of California, Los Angeles

Prof. James West, Vanderbilt University

Prof. Chris C. Martin, Oglethorpe University, USA

Prof. Jessica Hehman, University of Redlands

Prof. Andreas Bikfalvi, University of Bordeaux, France

Prof. Dorian Abbot, The University of Chicago
Prof. Robert Knapp, Reed College

Prof. David Kane, Harvard University

Prof. David Mandel, York University

Dr. Eddie Waldrep, Dept. Veterans Affairs

Dr. Jane Fisher, University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Colin Wright, Manhattan Institute

Dr. Carl  Beuke, New Zealand

Prof. Ed Gehringer, North Carolina State university

Prof. Glenn Geher, State University of New York

Prof. Rebecca Shiner, Colgate University

Prof. Delroy Paulhus, University of British Columbia

Prof. John Paul Chou, Rutgers University

Prof. Zach Goldberg, Georgia State University

Prof. Rob Sica, Prof. David Potts, Colorado State University

Prof. David Potts, City College of San Francisco

Prof. Richard Lowery, University of Texas, Austin

Prof. David Donaldson, Ottawa University

Prof. Julie Fitness, Macquarie University

Prof. David C Geary, University of Missouri

Prof. Sadredin C. Moosavi, Rochester Community Technical College
C. Alan Reber, California Southern University

Dr. Samantha Malone
Prof. Robert Kay, University of British Columbia
Prof. Alex Bertrams, University of Bern
Prof. Luana Maroja, Williams College
Dr. Nathan Honeycutt, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression
Prof. David Morgan, Spalding University
Dr. Samuel Rosenthal, Optave Diagnostics
Dr. Penny Adrian, Trauma Service
Dr. Frank Scavelli, University of East Anglia
Prof. Christopher Ferguson, Stetson University
Prof. Daniel Lakens, Eindhoven University
Prof. David Bertoli, University of Georgia
Dr. David Smith, American College of Education  
Prof. John Staddon, Duke University
Prof. Darrell Worthy, Texas A&M University 
Prof. Matt Osborne, Austin Peay State University
Prof. Gad Saad, Concordia University
Prof. James Thompson, University College London
Prof. Axel Meyer, University of Konstanz
Prof. David Morgan, Spalding University
Dr. J Metz, SNIA
Prof. Chris Ellis, Bucknell University
Prof. Matthew J Grawitch, Saint Louis University
Dr. Nathaniel Bork, Rutgers University
Prof. Karl-Markus Mueller, Furtwangen University
Dr. Robert Lynch, Penn State University
Prof. Joseph Cesario, Michigan State University
Dr. Florian Ploeckl, University of Adelaide
Prof. Holger Mitterer, University of Malta
Dr. Bill Frezza, MIT Free Speech Alliance
Prof. Gregory Connor, Maynooth University
Dr. Leif Rasmussen, Northwestern University
Prof. Markus Buehner, LMU Munich
Prof. Jacob L Mackey, Occidental College
Prof. Charles Negy, University of Central Florida 
Prof. Randy Wayne, Cornell University
Prof. Eric Kaufmann, Birkbeck College, University of London
Prof. Scott Yenor, Boise State University
Prof. Eric Rasmusen, Indiana University
Prof. Harald Uhlig, University of Chicago
Prof. Tom Huddle, UAB Heersink School of Medicine
Prof. Barry Smith, University at Buffalo
Prof. Richard Sparks, Mt. St. Joseph University
Prof. Gisela Muller-Plath, Technische Universitaet Berlin
Dr. Peter Hayes, Durham University
Nicholas Schappaugh, Georgia State University
Prof. Maxim Olchanyi, University of Massachusetts
Prof. Chris Rhoads, University of Connecticut
Smriti Mehta, UC Berkeley
Michael Lewis, University of Houston
Prof. Bradley Campbell, California State University, LA
Dr. Rachel Hartman, UNC Chapel Hill
Prof. Timur Sevincer, Leuphana University Luneburg
Mackenzie Moreno, DePaul University
Prof. Robert Gunn, College of the Desert 
Prof. Coel Hellier, Keele University
Dr. Ruud Custers, Utrecht University
Prof. Thomas Mueller-Gronbach, University of Passau, Germany
Prof. Henk Aarts, Utrecht University
Prof. Laszlo Majtenyi, University of Miskolc
Prof. Thomas Huddle, UAB Heersink School of Medicine
Prof. Barry Smith, University of Buffalo
Prof. Ginger Katz
Prof. Steven Miller, Williams College
Prof. Charles Trzcinka, Indiana University
Prof. Mark Ramseyer, Harvard Law School
Dr. Kirsty Miller
Prof. Elizabeth Weiss, San Jose State University
Prof. Joseph H. Manson, University of California, Los Angeles 

Und noch ein Nachtrag 30.1.23: KF antwortet auf Robert Gropp’s Rundmail (diese folgt weiter unten):


Response to Robert Gropp’s email circular, as of January 26, 2023

Immediately after I read the new APS email that promised “further clarifications”, I wrote the following text to the email’s sender, APS Chief Executive Officer Robert Gropp. Just as in several previous emails I have sent to APS, I did not receive any response to my question. Indeed, I have never been given a chance to respond to APS’ accusations, nor have I been told what specific behavior justifies the harsh consequences. My pertinent questions to APS have always remained unanswered.

Dear Robert:

I would like to respond to these „further clarifications“. Would you publish my responses using the same email circular, so that this time at least APS members get a chance to also provide my perspective on the alleged editorial malpractices?

Please respond in due time … to enable temporal contiguity

Thanks and best regards, Klaus 

Regarding the most recent letter distributed to all APS members, I deliberately contest that several statements conveyed by Robert Gropp are misleading, unwarranted, or fully uninformative.

The statement “We learned about additional questionable editorial decisions and practices at the journal under the previous Editor-in-Chief (EIC)” remains as vague and uninformative as all former accusations. To interpret the validity of this message, it would be necessary to know: (a) what is the relative rate of negative versus positive evaluations of the EIC’s practices; (b) the operational definition of “questionable editorial decisions and practices”; (c) what judgment prompt was used by for the assessment? Critical readers may want to see the raw data (i.e., the verbatim evaluations in a repository) and evidence that these raw data are not selective. Do the devaluations that Robert Gropp alludes to merely reflect frustrated remarks by authors of rejected submissions to a journal with an extremely high rejection rate? Why does APS’ assessment not reflect the overly positive feedback I received from so many other sources concerning the quality of my editorial work? (I could easily provide a no-name version thereof). Whatever the case, the present statement hardly qualifies as “further clarification” as the circular letter consists of generalities and no specific points.

Let us be honest. The point that “concerns from many individuals about the editorial practices” gave rise to the APS action is a giveaway. The APS action was prompted by widespread disquiet about ‘racism’, not editorial practices. A disquiet was triggered by a misconceived and unfounded accusation, as the unreported evidence shows.  

Another paragraph is highly misleading: “Before any action was taken, the EIC was contacted regarding the complaints and provided with a list of questions regarding his editorial actions. His response did not dispute the factual basis of any of the details included in the complaints.”

This sounds like the EIC was given a chance to provide his counter-version of the entire episode by established procedural justice rules. This criterion of fair treatment was never met because (a) APS selected the list of (interrogation-type) questions provided; they did not constitute the EIC’s perspective. Many reverse questions raised by the EIC remained unanswered, despite his explicit request. (b) The EIC was given less than 24 hours to resign, much too fast to allow for a fair discussion of divergent perspectives. (c) The EIC was not offered the same widespread email distribution list to present his counter-arguments to the same broad audience to which APS had already sent out its accusations. His remarks would have gone unnoticed. (d) APS had already admitted the journal’s mistake and created social realities before the EIC could respond.

Finally, Robert Gropp writes, “The Board reviewed the EIC’s actions and concluded that the EIC demonstrated poor editorial judgment and bias,” again without specification of what “poor editorial judgment and bias” was found based on what criteria and diagnostic methods. To repeat, this negative evaluation is at variance with a plethora of positive feedback I received in countless emails. The discrepancy strikes me as conspicuous and calling for transparent cross-validation. So far, I have never received an evidence-based report on what exactly APS classified as poor editorial work. And, the present email circular falls short of what it promises, namely “further clarifications”.

With best regards, Klaus Fiedler (former EIC)

— hier das Schreiben von APS-Präsident Gropp, auf das sich KF bezieht: —

Dear APS Member,
In recent weeks, we heard concerns from many individuals about the editorial practices at Perspectives on Psychological Science. We learned about additional questionable editorial decisions and practices at the journal under the previous Editor-in-Chief (EIC). We also received questions about the process we used to review the EIC and that led to the Board of Directors’ vote of no-confidence in the EIC. APS appreciates this input. 

We previously provided information about the editorial actions that prompted APS’s action. We state again that the EIC’s editorial procedures were the basis for the Board of Directors’ actions; the subject matter of the relevant articles was not. No assessment was made about the previous EIC’s personal beliefs at any point, nor was a judgment on the EIC’s character a factor in the Board’s vote of no-confidence in his editorship.

This update is to further clarify the procedures we used to evaluate the editorial decisions and practices of the EIC. Some people are concerned that the actions APS took were too quick to have been made with adequate deliberation and consideration of evidence. Although quick, this action was not undertaken lightly. 

After the initial complaint was brought to APS’s attention, journal staff immediately gathered relevant materials for APS leadership to review. This review was conducted over the weekend following the complaint. Much of the evidence to consider was immediately available via the records kept in the journal’s online submission portal. The staff and leadership also consulted with the Publications Committee and heard from some editors of other APS journals. 

Before any action was taken, the EIC was contacted regarding the complaints and provided with a list of questions regarding his editorial actions. His response did not dispute the factual basis of any of the details included in the complaints.

A Board of Directors meeting had already been scheduled for that week, so it was possible to consult the full Board expeditiously. The Board reviewed the EIC’s actions and concluded that the EIC demonstrated poor editorial judgment and bias. 

APS is in the process of appointing an Interim EIC for Perspectives on Psychological Science. Information about these efforts will be shared with APS members as we move forward.

Robert Gropp, PhD
Chief Executive Officer

Eine Chronologie der Ereignisse findet sich hier: https://unsafescience.substack.com/p/notes-from-a-witch-hunt

Joe Forgas, der den Unterstützungsbrief (weiter oben) mitinitiiert hat, schreibt in einem Blog-Beitrag: „I have known Klaus Fiedler for over forty years, and he is one of the most fair-minded and decent scientists I have ever met.“ Dem ist nichts hinzuzufügen!

9.2.2023: Einen lesenswerten Kommentar zu dem ganzen Vorgang hat Tilmann Betsch (Uni Erfurt) unter dem Titel publiziert: https://www.uni-erfurt.de/erfurtlab/tatsaechlich-forschungsblog/ein-camouflage-angriff-auf-die-prinzipien-empirischer-wissenschaften-der-fall-fiedler-als-lehrstueck

2 Antworten

  1. Klaus Fiedler ignores all statements by APS and critics that point out the concrete problems in the editorial process. Like Trump, he thinks by just repeating his own view, and claiming that criticism are fake accusations by people who have a personal vendetta against him (although most of the 1,000 people who signed the letter don’t know him), he can win this controversy. Instead, he looks more and more like a sore loser who can’t admit even a single small mistake. Like Trump, he is the stable genius and everybody else is wrong. Not sure this is helping to restore die „Ehre“. Maybe some humility would help, but personality (diversity) is real. Of course, he is also going to ignore this comment and my longer blog post on his unethical behaviors.


  2. „The malicious and highly personalized social-media attack mainly reflects an extremely low threshold for unwarranted constructive inferences of social-media users“

    I am commenting as one of the more than 1,000 scholars who signed the open letter asking for your resignation. While the open letter was shared on social media, it is misleading to call this letter malicious and a social media attack. Social media helped me to be aware of the issue, but my response was based on my personal experiences and standards of ethical and scientific practices and fairness in the peer-review process. I cannot speak for other people who signed the letter, but my reason to sign the letter was that I find it unacceptable to invite writers of positive reviews to submit their reviews as commentaries. If these reviewers mainly agreed with the author, why was it important to publish these redundant commentaries? It seems problematic to claim that the goal was to foster discussion when the views of all three reviewers elevated to the status of commentators were on one side of the issue. You state that you were unable to find reviewers who would argue that systematic racism in psychology is a problem that needs to be addressed, but I wonder how many African American scholars did you contact as potential reviewers? If they declined, why do you think they declined to support Roberts? Your response to the reaction shows that you are not aware of the debate about representation of African Americans at North American universities (DEI initiatives) and maybe should not have edited this manuscript. Unfortunately, you also did not have African American scholars on your editorial team to consult. Anyhow, what happened happened and hopefully APS will learn from this fiasco and improve editorial oversight and guidelines in the future. If it helps, I also had to resign from an editorial position after social media outrage, and I can assure you that life goes on. We all make mistakes. The question is how we respond to them.

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