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We are offered a rough guide to spotting bad science


From chemistry site Compound Interest:

The vast majority of people will get their science news from online news site articles, and rarely delve into the research that the article is based on. Personally, I think it’s therefore important that people are capable of spotting bad scientific methods, or realising when articles are being economical with the conclusions drawn from research, and that’s what this graphic aims to do. Note that this is not a comprehensive overview, nor is it implied that the presence of one of the points noted automatically means that the research should be disregarded. This is merely intended to provide a rough guide to things to be alert to when either reading science articles or evaluating research.

A great chart to print out offers comments on

sensationalized headlines
misinterpreted results
conflicts of interest
correlation & causation
unsupported conclusions
problems with sample size
underrepresentative samples used
no control group used
no blind testing used
selective reporting of data
unreplicable results
non-peer-reviewed material

One thing the News desk would add is that peer review is not a cure-all. See, for example: If peer review is working, why all the retractions? and independent site Retraction Watch.

But the chart is a good start, and armed with it, a science teacher can dissect with students the far out (as in Pluto’s orbit) claims one sometimes encounters in pop science media.

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

OT: Casey Luskin has part 2 of his article out:
Part 2: What’s the matter with evolution? By Casey Luskin - May 2, 2015 Excerpt: Five more scientific problems found in evolutionary theory Problem 6: Molecular Biology has Failed to Yield a Grand “Tree of Life” Problem 7: Convergent Evolution Challenges Darwinism and Destroys the Logic Behind Common Ancestry Problem 8: Differences Between Vertebrate Embryos Contradict the Predictions of Common Ancestry Problem 9: Neo-Darwinism Struggles to Explain the Biogeographical Distribution of Many Species Problem 10: Neo-Darwinism Has a Long History of Inaccurate Darwinian Predictions about Vestigial Organs and “Junk DNA” http://www.worldmag.com/2015/05/part_2_what_s_the_matter_with_evolution
here is part 1 in case you missed it.
What’s the matter with evolution? Science | A ranking of the top five scientific problems found in evolutionary theory By Casey Luskin - April 25, 2015 Problem 1: No Viable Mechanism to Generate a Primordial Soup Problem 2: Unguided Chemical Processes Cannot Explain the Origin of the Genetic Code Problem 3: Random Mutations Cannot Generate the Genetic Information Required for Irreducibly Complex Structures Problem 4: Natural Selection Struggles to Fix Advantageous Traits into Populations Problem 5: Abrupt Appearance of Species in the Fossil Record Does Not Support Darwinian Evolution http://www.worldmag.com/2015/04/what_s_the_matter_with_evolution
May 4, 2015
03:17 PM

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