Thursday, April 23, 2009

Journalism and Science - Peanutbutter and Chocolate fare much better...

The good professors at Language Log offer us another disgusted criticism of science reporting - this time the headlines pretty much promised us that Twitter would make us evil.

Yes, one more time a minor effect detected in a study is reinterpreted to yield headlines such as Facebook hurting moral values, says study and Facebook and Twitter 'make us bad people'. Not that the study actually involved Facebook or Twitter, read the article for a full description.

Professor Liberman offers credit where credit is due:
Kudos to Ben Goldacre, whose BS detector went off on cue, and who managed to get an early copy of the paper by some back-channel route ("Experts say new scientific evidence helpfully justifies massive pre-existing moral prejudice", Bad Science, 4/18/2009), and to Chris Matyszczyk at CNET, who was suitably skeptical on the basis of common sense ("Oh, so now Twitter is making us immoral", 4/15/2009). Chris also wins Best Line: "Your brain might, at this point, be scanning the thought that if all the subjects of this research were from Los Angeles, it might be surprising that the scientists found any moral compass at all."

And props to the 74% of respondents in that internet survey who weren't persuaded by this fake-scientific morality play.

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