Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to come up with ‘scientific results’ on dubious studies and polls

                  Good Day Humboldt County!

If you watch, or read, the news every day then you probably saw or heard of at least one study, or poll, that claimed to use scientific methods to reach a conclusion. Political, scientific, and entertainment polls are a way of life in America.

Many people accept their results with no question, assuming experts know what their doing. They’re right about some pollsters and researchers with ethics and morals perhaps, but many others manipulate figures, numbers, and percentages, into a false picture according to their agenda.

Flat out. Don’t believe every poll or research paper is an honest assessment of things. Some polls have a certain amount of credibility – like Gallup for instance – but you still have to look at factors like the questions asked. Do they lead you into an inevitable conclusion? Who conducted the poll or research? Why? Who financed it?

There’s a lot to consider when you look at a poll or read a research paper. How do you tell if one research paper claiming marijuana is harmful and can give you cancer, and another tells you the complete opposite? Who is telling the truth? You have to do your own research to determine that. It’s often not easy, but I think preferable to being a lemming and not questioning polls and surveys.

Take them all with a grain of salt. Polls are playthings for politicans and in election years like this we’re bombarded with them. Consider this; it’s easy to publish statistically significant evidence consistent with any hypothesis.

See what you think about the following article - a “scientific paper” - on how easy it is to bullshit people!

 “Would you believe a scientific paper that said listening to the Beatles song "When I'm 64" made people get younger? It was tested by experiment, and the result came out with "statistical significance," which is the gold standard for incorporating new findings into the established scientific literature.

The point of the experiment was not really to test the youth-restoring effects of the song, but to show how too many dubious studies in social sciences are getting published in respected journals. (If it were really true, Paul McCartney would get even richer.)

Wharton researcher Uri Simonsohn constructed the song experiment as a sort of test case, along with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Berkeley. They conducted a similar experiment showing that listening to the children's song "Hot Potato" made people feel older.

The researchers got both results using well-accepted practices for collecting, parsing, and analyzing statistical data, and both easily met qualifications for acceptance in peer-reviewed journals, said Simonsohn, a co-author of the paper.

"It's unacceptably easy to publish statistically significant evidence consistent with any hypothesis," he said.”

(read the entire story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road….

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