Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The general public just doesn't get science

Another example of how valid and reliable scientific evidence is often discounted or ignored by the general public.

A new study by researchers at Tulane University found that spanking leads to increased levels of aggression in children. They controlled for a "host of" factors such as depression, alcohol and drug use in the mother, natural levels of aggression, and more. They followed the childrens' behavior over many years, several ages, and 20 US cities.

And then in an interview, some TV talking head says the study is BS because he was spanked and he grew up just fine. This is a sample size of just 1, has no controlling factors, may not even be true (maybe he would have been even less aggressive if he hadn't been spanked), etc. etc. But I am sure that half the audience just nodded their heads and agreed with him. The insights provided by the science are wasted.

I guess we get what we deserve, don't we?

1 comment:

C K said...

From a purely scientific aspect we won't really know the validity of this study until someone does it again, exactly the same way, and replicates the results. A single report is interesting, but for it to provide true knowledge it needs to be replicated by someone else and then the line of thought needs to be carried further. Not only does the general public not get science, sometimes scientists don't get it either. It's what makes human factors so interesting.