Someone just pointed me to this news article entitled, “Air rage incidents are on the rise. First-class sections aren’t helping,” which falls hook, line, and sinker for a notorious discredited study that appeared in PPNAS last year.
I can hardly blame the Washington Post reporter for getting this one wrong, given that NPR swallowed the bait last May. Still, I hate to see it happen. What next—himmicanes??
I look forward to the day when news reporters won’t automatically think that things are true, just cos they’re published in tabloid science journals.
What gets me angry here
I can hardly blame the Washington Post reporter for, on deadline, making a mistake that was also made by reporters from so many other news organizations. And it’s hard even for me to get angry at the authors of the air-rage paper, those statistical naifs who are just doing research the way their teachers taught them, gathering data, looking for statistically significant patterns, and then telling the kind of catchy causal stories that will get their work published in top journals.
No, what really annoys me are those sections of the scientific community who promote junk science and who acquiesce in its promotion, scientists who seem to have a say-no-evil, all-publicity-is-good-publicity attitude. I’m angry at scientists who have lifetime job contracts and who have received the laurels of their professions, who promote junk science.
Also I’m angry at the National Academy of Sciences, which is burning a little bit of its prestige—and the prestige of science in general—every time it publishes something like the himmicanes and air rage papers. No, NAS, its not always good news when you’re mentioned in the Washington Post. Not this time. Not at all.