These researchers are making a video as they gather evidence. If more scientists documented their research in this way, it might reduce the amount of “bad science” that occurs.
Why It Matters
- “Bad science” is science that is done poorly, is biased, or in which the results are cherry picked to support a favored hypothesis. Some “bad science” is even downright fraudulent. Unfortunately, “bad science” may be more prevalent than you might think.
- Some examples of "bad science" (or its use in advertising) are patently obvious, such as the claims in the ad below. Other examples are much more difficult to identify.
- So who can you believe when it comes to scientific knowledge? Should you believe a noted scientific authority? or how about the information presented in a peer-reviewed publication?
- According to medical doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre, neither scientific credentials nor prestigious peer-reviewed publications guarantee sound science. Watch his TED talk at this link to learn more:
What Do You Think?
Read the article about "bad science" at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.
- What does Ben Goldacre consider to be the weakest form of scientific evidence?
- Scientists or science writers may extrapolate from a lab study of cells in a Petri dish to the human body. Why is this likely to be "bad science"?
- Why are research studies that lack controls examples of "bad science"?
- Assuming that correlation establishes causation is a common practice in "bad science". Explain what it means and why it is "bad science".
- Drug company research on new medicines generally gets positive results. How does Ben Goldacre explain this? How can the underlying cause be detected?
- What is publication bias? How does it contribute to "bad science"?
- What do you think? How can thinking like a scientist and having knowledge of scientific experiments and reasoning make you a wiser consumer?