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Discredited paper claiming that religious children are less generous is still cited in media

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For example,

In fact, Decety’s paper has continued to be cited in media articles on religion. Just last month two such articles appeared (one on Buzzworthy and one on TruthTheory) citing Decety’s paper that religious children were less generous. The paper’s influence seems to continue even after it has been shown to be wrong.

Last month, however, the journal, Current Biology, at last formally retracted the paper. If one looks for the paper on the journal’s website, it gives notice of the retraction by the authors. Correction mechanisms in science can sometimes work slowly, but they did, in the end, seem to be effective here. More work still needs to be done as to how this might translate into corrections in media reporting as well: The two articles above were both published after the formal retraction of the paper.

Tyler J. VanderWeele Ph.D., “Does a Religious Upbringing Promote Generosity or Not?” at Psychology Today

We love it. “Correction mechanisms in science can sometimes work slowly… ” Why does that remind us of “Nature has retracted a major oceans warning paper, after ten months of mass freakouts? The suspicion raised—and it is not unreasonable—is that the harm that wrong information does is useful to some parties.

It’s almost like we sense the retraction coming conveniently after the damage is done, when even the media aftershocks count. The winner in the game won’t be respect for science.

Incidentally, one reason that religious people are more likely to be generous (as most reliable data show) is that they are more likely to be in venues where they are urged to contribute generously, as part of their lifestyle. That fact alone should have resulted in more curiosity about the supposed findings in the first place.

See also: Skeptic asks, why do people who abandon religion embrace superstition? Belief in God is declining and belief in ghosts and witches is rising

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