As embarrassing as it can be to get caught up in an intense headline and spread the news far and wide, only to find out it was from a satire site, it is far worse to glom onto “the latest” research without looking for fatal flaws. Unfortunately, like an innacurate headline that gets a retraction buried pages-deep in a future edition, it seems it is the false information that lives on, and not the information that followed immediately, debunking the so-called flawed research project that is stuck in everybody’s minds.
At least if it is satire, they can say that is what they are about. However, when major academic institutions and/or other agencies make claims that are not based in reality, it’s not funny. An exhaustive list (or even a short one) would take some time, in terms of why allegedly scientific studies should be questioned, so I offer the following example, which makes the point, quite well.
Check here for a great start with incredible reasons, re: why science is on shaky ground, and “the scientific priesthood”. In the meantime:
Case And Point:
For young and middle-aged adults, marijuana use may lead to cardiovascular complications, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The Research About The Research:
A new study on marijuana appeared in Journal of the American Heart Association. These are interesting data, but we have to interpret them very carefully…
… In short, this study tells us a lot about what kinds of cardiac complications appeared in people who were reported to the French government for cannabis-related problems, but tells us little about the link between cannabis use and cardiovascular disease.
As someone who has used cannabis at various stages throughout their life, as well as someone who just had a heart attack, this article caught my attention. What seemed odd to me was that after several reviews of potential risk factors for heart disease, cannabis use was the only thing I could come up with, yet my cardiologist was not concerned about it.
Anyhow, within short order, the article refuting the research of the study surfaced. It was handy when someone posted the original article to a FB page for heart attack survivors: I was able to squash the crappy research on that site the moment it was posted.
Another common mistake that people make is not following the money. For example, checking to see if a study that drew negative conclusions about cannabis was funded by the tobacco industry, or others. People tend to put a lot of trust in studies by academic institutions, but this is dangerous, also. Students have teachers to please, loans to pay, papers to finish … the university is beholden to their grantors … Sometimes the truth gets in the way, if the search for the truth was what really motivated the researcher in the first place.
The same thing happened again, at about the same time, with a study stating that cannabis was harmful to children. This research, too, was found to have major flaws that made any conclusions meaningless. That it had to do with marijuana again was coincidental/synchronistic:
Can casual marijuana use damage the brains of young adults? A new study says yes—but its participants suggest otherwise.
We live in a society that validates the “news” and anybody who claims to be an authority, with very little regard for fact checking. Television/media programming has done so well that even people who may say things like “idiot box” are still inclined to believe the crap that comes out of it.
To one-up that peeve, it is even worse when those in independent media, who spend much of their energies pointing out the flaws of corporate media, get all excited when some major news repeater on a major network finally says something that they agree with. Quit it. hehe