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Why the science spin snowball can’t stop


Further to the fact that much science spin originates with the scientists, not the university hype machine or the science journalists:

Because these are all observational studies, though, we don’t know how much of this is journalists just broadcasting scientists’ spin, and how much would have happened even if the scientists stuck to the straight and narrow. Chris Chambers, who is a co-author of some of these studies, said that finding out that most media misreporting is actually because of scientists, their institutions, and journals “would make grumbling scientists look like hypocrites”. (That quote comes from a Twitter thread that’s gripping reading.)

Chambers & co went that next step, and did a randomized study. They found that hype in a press release was more likely to lead to hype in newspapers – and that a study didn’t need to be hyped to get covered. There might not be a downside to authors, journals, and universities being more cautious about what they claim.

There isn’t an evidence base, though, to show what works to reduce hyping of research results.Hilda Bastian, “Can Anything Really Stop the Science Spin Snowball?” at PLOS

The bigger problem is overlooked. The basic philosophy of the people doing the science spins the story for them. We live in the age of the space detritus that was supposed to be an extraterrestrial lightsail and the conscious plants. And the talking apes. Oh yes, and the multiverse.

The problem isn’t that people believe this stuff but that they consider it science.

Hype is a normal reaction in such an atmosphere.

See also: How naturalism rots science from the head down

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