Submitted by Charles Knighton
“The homo thing has been the brainwashing manipulator’s greatest triumph.” Richard Hoad, July 10,2015
While we expect special interest groups, who usually base their beliefs on emotion rather than fact, to rely on propagandistic brainwashing to achieve their ends, we now live in an age where even the outcome of supposedly dispassionate scientific studies are skewed to reflect the researcher’s biases.
It has become difficult to know who or what to believe.
It seemed like a ground breaking piece of research. A study published in the journal Science last December found that a 20-minute chat with an openly gay person was often enough to turn a same-sex marriage opponent into a supporter. Gay rights campaigners hailed the paper as proof that empathy could conquer prejudice. The only problem? The study was bunk. One of the authors had faked the results, and in May the paper was retracted.
That such a flawed piece of “research” made it to publication wasn’t surprising to many scientists. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet medical journal, claims that up to 50 percent of all scientific papers may simply be untrue. Instances of wholesale fraud, as in the gay marriage study, are still relatively rare. But researchers too often seem to sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world, or run badly designed experiments that confuse association with causation or inflate modest findings into sensational and unequivocal conclusions. (Walnuts reduce your risk of diabetes!)
This epidemic of bad science can’t just be blamed on researchers; the media and public are also complicit. Few of us are interested in the often unglamorous reality of science—a process that’s filled with dead ends, false starts and incremental steps toward greater knowledge. Attention—and funding—goes to research that promises exciting breakthroughs or simplistic solutions to complex problems. That puts pressure on researchers and universities to hit home runs.
This doesn’t mean we should stop trusting science; it’s still the best tool we have for understanding the world. We just need to be more skeptical, and less like sheeps, when it comes to people in white coats bearing extraordinary data.