I am only about two years behind on my emails. Every email folks send me is worthy of a full post, but obviously I am so far behind I’ll never catch up. But it’s all juicy material and readers need to see it.
From reader Weston, a link to a paper about conspiracies. More quantifying of the unquantifiable.
Thought I’d elect my own bad science paper for the year, on if the following conspiracies weren’t true, the math shows that they would have probably been debunked by now. The 4 conspiracies chosen are the moon landing, global warming, harmful vaccinations, and the cure for cancer. That’s a lively bunch.
The author, of course, has all sorts of great citations at the beginning to understand how a conspiracy works. And then the author starts by using a failure model to say that a conspiracy will become debunked if one person talks.
Going a bit further, the paper assumes that there was a single event for which the truth about the situation is known. A moon landing is a good example of this. The moon landing, one time, either happened or it didn’t. Climate change is not a single event. Vaccinations are not single events. So not only do I think his premise is flawed, but he’s already undercut himself with his examples; He’s making an enormous amount of assumptions, and then applying to situations that do not match his assumptions. Oh, and no test data. Which is the kicker.
There’s even some wee-p values!
As an avid reader, thought you’d enjoy
From Warren, a peer-reviewed paper on the supposed racial differences in pain assessment and treatment recommendations. The academy has race on the brain, the racists.
Subject: Candidate for Bad Science award, racial bias in prescribing pain meds
Found news releases of this article floating around on Facebook. The basic point touted in the news articles is that research claims that racial bias is one reason why blacks are treated disparately when given pain medicine. It deals with white laypeople and medical professionals (or trainees) endorsing false statements about biological differences between blacks and whites, and how that influenced their ability to rate the pain and provide recommendations for prescribing pain medicines in (just) two hypothetical cases, one white and one black patient.
Of course none of the news articles link to the original article, but it’s PNAS and behind a paywall. I would consider it a candidate for your Bad Science award.
Right off the bat, they create a “composite” of false beliefs regarding blacks by averaging together people’s survey responses for each of the false questions (which was on an ordinal scale) and then used continuous statistics with it. The differences between the groups (without any sense of uncertainty) also is suspect. There may be other major flaws with it, but I’m only a fledgling.
Here is the link to the full article: LINK
Don’t worry, be happy
Lastly, a Blog Challenge. This is from Christopher. The link is to the article “Does A ‘Happiness Gene’ Exist?”:
I’m at the end of my rope. The only way I can cope with this latest “science” nightmare is a Briggs-style deconstruction. Please consider.
The challenge is critique the paper (which you’ll have to get) in the way in which you have been taught. Then write a Guest Post which I’ll happily post.