Okay, but I've never seen this explanation offered: successful priming studies stop replicating after awhile because they basically aren't science. At least not in the sense of having discovered something that will work forever.I find it informative that the grand self-appointed defenders of Science Reason are always focused on the nonexistent enemy of Religion while showing absolutely no interest in real land of Woo, which is academic pseudoscience. As a general rule, it is safe to assume that if midwitted charlatans such as Malcolm Gladwell or Jared Diamond are basing conclusions upon it, the scientific aspects, to the extent that they exist at all, will be more than a little shaky.
Instead, to the extent that they ever did really work, they are exercises in marketing. Or, to be generous, art.
And, art wears off.
The power of a work of art to prime emotions and actions changes over time. Perhaps, initially, the audience isn't ready for it, then it begins to impact a few sensitive fellow artists, and they begin to create other works in its manner and talk it up, and then it become widely popular. Over time, though, boredom sets in and people look for new priming stimuli.
For a lucky few old art works (e.g., the great Impressionist paintings), vast networks exist to market them by helping audiences get back into the proper mindset to appreciate the old art (E.g., "Monet was a rebel, up against The Establishment! So, putting this pretty picture of flowers up on your wall shows everybody that you are an edgy outsider, too!").
So, let's assume for a moment that Bargh's success in the early 1990s at getting college students to walk slow wasn't just fraud or data mining for a random effect among many effects. He really was priming early 1990s college students into walking slow for a few seconds.
Is that so amazing?
I would go so far as to point out that the MAJORITY of what passes for science today is, in fact, nothing of the sort. It's not experimental. It's not replicable. Despite the credentials attached to it, it has nothing more to do with science than the proverbial PhD defecating in the woods. Science is not simply "what scientists do".