Dubious Science in the Media

There’s a nice article in the latest issue of Bitch magazine, discussing dubious science and presenting pointers on how to spot when the journalism or research isn’t quite up to scratch. As this is the publication which describes itself as “feminist response to pop culture”, the case studies are populated with lots of spurious claims pertaining to gender, sex and cultural stereotypes. So next time you hear an extravagant claim in the news, don’t be reticent to take a closer look, demand some proof and verify the sources.

3 Responses to “Dubious Science in the Media”


  1. 1 Tim April 17, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    What an excellent article! I’d noticed this trend before, the way confirmation bias exerts an insanely powerful effect when it comes to reporting gender-related science, but it’s really nice to have a whole collection of examples and a neat categorisation of the ways reporting goes wrong.

    I imagine that at some level the urge to reinforce the status-quo is an instinct humans developed to create a more stable society. An instinct that is running up against more and more opposition in these heady days of accelerated change.

  2. 2 Clare April 18, 2008 at 12:38 am

    It also reminded me of that story Richard Feynman tells about having worked out this theory he was really sure about but it contradicted one of the classic results in the literature. When he reexamines the paper in question he discovers a mistake in it. I love it as a story of trusting your own reasoning and having the confidence to look closer and demand to see the evidence and an explanation. In the worst case scenario, you are proven wrong but you’ve learned something.

  3. 3 berenike April 23, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Once you read a newspaper report about something of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge, you never ever trust them on anything again. Perhaps the football results. And Hamster Bites Man stories.


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