Best reason for not watching network TV

This summary on “Is Stupidity Contagious?” connects with a whole series of stupidity posts on that blog (I can’t quite bring myself to type it — since I mostly can’t remember which of the syllables goes where even when I try to say it out loud from memory!).

I like these bits from social science research, even though there are serious questions about the validity and thus usefulness of these studies. Seeing the vastness and seeming ease with which one researcher published many bogus studies based on fake/manipulated data forces us all to look for independent confirmatory studies.

Of course, there’s a whole separate discussion, which I’ll only tease you with here: the standards for what is considered a publishable, reliable study varies. It varies across journals, it varies across institutions, it varies across fields. Top-tier work in one field is thought unworthy of reading in others. I know that when I started reading more studies that were clearly not in the “hard science” world, the prevalence of anecdotes, small studies, and even (to me!) poor study design combined to make the conclusions vastly more suspect than I would have liked.

Who watches the watchers? When we make policy decisions on suspect conclusions, where’s the sense in that?

Leave a Comment