Reuters: Dodgy science is destroying science’s credibility, say scientists
A flood of ”dodgy science” risks submerging the public’s trust in science, according to new research. Professor Henri Mensonge of the University of Watermouth, claims that businesses and public relations firms are paying “labcoats for hire” to create newsworthy ‘factoids’ for newspapers desperate for cheap and “funny” science stories. “These commuter McNuggets may seem harmless, but the fear is that such a diet – especially when regurgitated during pub conversations to prove right-wing myths about women’s smaller brains and racism being ‘natural’ – threaten the appetite for real peer-reviewed science.” 76% of those surveyed by Professor Mensonge’s team were able to recall flawed studies being cited by a drunken relative after Christmas dinner 2010 as evidence for their batshit crazy views. All but two recalled being told that James Delingpole had single-handedly destroyed the “so-called” consensus on climate change in his latest Telegraph column.
The research, funded by the Journalistic Explainers of Research Knowledge Society, was conducted in the Newton’s Apple pub after one of the group’s regular monthly meetings (either January or February – the paperwork got a bit beer-soaked). Approximately 50 members of the pubic were randomly selected and asked randomly selected questions about science and journalism. It is recalled that Professor Mensonge is reported to have said “Our study, while not quite at peer-review standard, shows a definite trend in the direction that the funders of the research were hoping for. Can I have my fee now, cos it’s my round?”
OK, this wasn’t as funny or witty as I had it in my head (what ever is?). And I may have complicated matters by NOT keeping the satire focused on to the “create-factoids-and-get-them-into-the-press” industry. But the Point I Am Trying To Make is this – there is so much bollocks pseudo-science out there, and Joe and Jane Public don’t have the time (and training) to go back and see whether the science is “real” or has been bought and paid for by some company wanting to push an agenda, and waved through onto the pages of a ‘newspaper’ that wants to keep everything light and funny
Other Dwight Towers posts on relatively similar themes
It makes my brain ache
On the Reality of Nature and the Nature of Reality
The “Nature” of the “Beast”
Matey Capitalism (pdf) – I will post it at some point…
This is a news website article about a scientific paper by Martin Robbins, the Guardian 27 September 2010
Flat Earth News by Nick Davies
Confirmation bias – we accept stories that we like, that help us to bolster the way we see the world.