That Study That May Not Be Valid From That Journal I’ve Never Heard of TOTALLY Proves My Point

Random subject, but here’s a pretty great example of how we go about misinforming ourselves:

1. Someone posts a link to Reddit with the grabby (and grammatically suspect) headline “Sexual Competition Causes Jealousy and Envy More to Women than to Men.”

2. Despite the facts that almost no one who views this link has heard of the journal in question (Revista de Psicología Social, for those keeping track) and that the writeup of the study was posted on an obscure website, many of the males who see the headline get a pleasurable flash of recognition (“Yes! Women are so emotional!”) and pass the link on to friends.

3. Thus, countless people who have no idea whether a study is worthwhile help it go viral because it comports to a stereotype they have.

Classic confirmation bias. Bad for science and bad for an informed populace. If you find this example non-compelling, just plug in a scenario involving birtherism or trutherism or climate-change denialism.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.