Posts Tagged ‘bad science’

Not very, I hope, because we need a swift and clean solution to the bad science journalism problem. Personally, I am willing to take one for the team and eat Russel Goldman*.

Yesterday PZ Myers steamrolled a pro-creationist** article about the Ardi fossil discovery. Because I was rather certain that Rusell Goldman, the author of this vile piece of, er, something, clearly must have done something similar before, or at least described the antics of intrepid Briton otters, I and my trusty Google-fu skills braved the dark enemy fortress, and here’s what we got:

1. First, nothing really scary, typical political stuff. A bit biased towards Republicans, I’d say.

2. Next is the article about depression in Utah that I think I’ve read before. However, when you reread you notice all sorts of things. Like, how many cliches do you see in this paragraph:

Take Wendy, a 40-year-old teacher and mother of three from Utah County. To all appearances, she led the perfect life. Just as she was expected to, she went from high school cheerleader to Mormon missionary to wife and mother.


3. And by the third article, we hit the jackpot. It relates the Gates fiasco, when a black scholar was arrested in his own house, because the police thought he was mean to them*** (or him, I don’t really remember). Goldman inserts the following commentary between other people’s opinions:

Some observers questioned whether the president should have so strongly backed Gates, a longtime friend, over the police who arrested him without fully knowing exactly what took place between the professor and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley.

“Some observers” LOL. This is stuff you can’t even get away with at the Wikipedia, but, apparently, with which ABC has no problems at all.

ALso, translation from batshit to English: I AM NOT RACIST NOT AT ALL BUT THOSE BROWN FOLKS THEY JUST (…).

He then quotes statistics saying how POC feel about their interactions with the police, but not statistics that would show that the police tends to really actually be unfair towards the POC. Because, duh, why write about those pesky facts, when you can show another minority group to be oversensitive and overreacting?


4. He also did the story about Sullenberger and his uber-competent emergency landing, but there’s no way you can fuck up that story****.

5. Finally, the gem I was saving for the end: the creationist-fellatioing piece of drivel wasn’t the first time Goldman was caught being incompetent, this time by religious people here.

Oops, it turns out he’s an equal opportunity hack, and not even an honest to god fundamentalist.

(Note: I’m not trying to turn it into a witch hunt. However, if you epically fuck up once, chances are this wasn’t your first fuck up.

And it wasn’t.

Think statistically!)

* How hard can it be? It’s like eating a human-sizes piece of sushi, really. NOM NOM NOM.

** It’s more than just pro, really. It’s like fellating and arse-licking at the same time.


**** There actually is. I could easily think of at least three. I just don’t want to harsh your squee.


Via Unfunny Business!

Um, cut for mentions of sexual assault.

First, look at this picture of pygmy marmoset, because it’s highly relevant to this post, and also cute.



So, as it happens, I often troll Unfunny Business for my weekly daily weekly dose of moral outrage. And Darwin’s pants, did I hit the jackpot this week!

So, we have two hack cognitive scientists, one of whom – Ogi Ogas, as it later turns out, is actually in no way affiliated with Boston University, as he would like us to believe. Oops.
But he got this amazing pop-sciencey book deal anyway, right? SO CAN YOU! SO CAN I! The title of the brilliant opus is:

by Drs. Ogi Ogas & Sai Gaddam (Dutton, 2010)

*Facepalm* guys I can see the headlines already!  There Is Porn On The Internets! Will Anybody Think Of Our Children? People Read Porn, Twitter Makes You Evil, Say Scientists, and so on, and so forth.

I seriously can’t wait till the book is finally published, and Bad Cognitive Science meets Bad Science Reporting. It will be like the Titanic and the iceberg, only, joining forces! In an epic battle against the rest of the world the very fabric of reality! I’M WAITING WITH BATED BREATH!

But I digress.

Ogi Ogas (who has locked his LJ, because people started dog-piling on him. How will he survive the peer-review process, I wonder? Note how his icon has a brain on it. This is because he’s a serious neuroscientist. This little bit of trivial detail is important, because as we will discover later on, icons turn out to be very one of the crucial parts of this wank cognitive science fail) and Sai Gaddam post a survey in a fandom-related community. The survey is about slash fan fiction, and the aim is to, basically prove that male and female sexuality is different. The facts concerning aims and methods of the study is something that could be gleaned from Ogas/Gaddam’s TL;DR survey FAQ. Before they deleted/locked it, because people started criticising them. Um. And it was valid criticism. Whatever.

Anyway, Ogas/Gaddam lock everything. They also think it’s OK to start changing questions when the survey is already in progress. The questions themselves are not at all leading oh no no no , and you couldn’t at all tell what the authors’ intent was and at what conclusion they wanted to arrive.

By the way, this is the internets. Nothing can be ever deleted. There’s Google cache, Wayback Machine, and screen-capping tools >_>, and therefore  part one, part two of the survey:

31. What specific fan fiction story would you most like to live out as one of its characters? (If possible, please provide the name of the story, fandom, and author.)

Conclusion: fan fiction authors live vicariously their deprived kinky erotica-consumerist lives through their stories. Also, what’s with the obsession about identifying with fictional characters? I don’t enjoy Naomi Novik’s novels, because I secretly think I’m totally like Temeraire, and I don’t enjoy Writing Systems: An Introduction to their Linguistic Analysis, because I secretly identify with the Vai syllabary*. That’s absurd.

32. Which fictional character do you think could be your ideal mate?

Yeah, sure, mate. See above.

35. Do you use alcohol or illicit non-prescription drugs (e.g., marijuana) while reading fan fiction?

Conclusion: porn-readers are deprived and sick, scientists say, AND ARE THE MEDIA HERE YET? ARE THEY HERE YET? GOSH THIS BOOK IS GONNA SELL LIEK WHOA!111

37. If you read slash, do you identify with the characters while you’re reading?

Agaaain. Conclusion: all women secretly want penises. Yaaaaaaaawn.

62. What is the gender of the icon/avatar you use to represent yourself on LiveJournal or other communities?

Before you say anything, I’d like to point out that Ogas’s avatar = icon is a picture of a brain. What would that mean? And is the brain a female brain or a male brain??? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

70. Do you believe in true love?

Conclusion: Aw, those silly little wimminz, lol.

And this was not supposed to be their preliminary survey, either *facepalm*. Not to mention the methodological mistakes (like, why would they want to rely so much on self-reporting???), they didn’t even try to be upfront and say they were writing a book about “netporn”.

More links are here, including to screencaps of the whole debacle. With the bonus of Ogas being a complete transphobic fuckwad (general transphobia; “tranny” <– in general, major fail is to be observed in the thread, as Ogas tries to explain to the little silly wimminz that pretty (= Ogas wants to have sex with them) females are attracted to pretty (= similar to Ogas) men, because the African savanna made them so, LOL STUPID; shemale).

Seriously, though, I do hope the media won’t pick up on the book. The fallout would give me a migraine for weeks.

*I totally could, though. These letters, they are pretty.