How easy it is to distinguish a good scientific publication from a pseudo-scientific | Education 2022

Scientific publications are fascinating and informative. They contain a lot of helpful information. Science makes life easier. But pseudoscientific information puts people at risk. Therefore, it is essential to distinguish good scientific news and information from harmful and pseudoscientific.

How to distinguish science from pseudoscience?
How to distinguish science from pseudoscience?


Step 1

Note the title. Shock! Feeling! You don’t believe it for anything. These flashy headlines are the first sign that a publication may be far from scientific, misleading, inaccurate, or distorted information. Ideally, the title of scientific publications should be simple and briefly reflect the article’s essence.

Step 2

Results of research or surveys. Too good or too depressing should be equally suspect. Is everything so rosy or terrible? Therefore, if you have the opportunity, it would be good to familiarize yourself with the original research and rely only on the results. For example, “red meat causes cancer” could mean that, according to a study, people who eat red meat are at risk for cancer, and this risk is a fraction of a percent compared to those who don’t eat red meat. That information cannot be called a sensation. It won’t interest anyone or scare anyone, but it’s true.

Step 3

Commercial companies use the services of scientists, and these services are paid, of course, but not all paid research involves a conflict of interest. In other words, scientists are not corrupt, but some can fabricate data beneficial to the business. This happened. Unfortunately, such facts do not arise independently, and they are not called out at every intersection. They can be challenging to detect.

Step 4

Always remember that cause and effect are two different things. Here’s a great example. Since 1980, global warming has worsened, and the number of pirates has decreased. However, there is no connection between these events. The decrease in the number of pirates in no way affects the deterioration or improvement of the climate.

step 5

Look for words like “maybe,” “maybe,” and “most likely.” One hundred percent statements are not typical for scientific publications. Scientists are people who are used to doubt. Always and in everything.

step 6

In research, the sample size with which conducted the study is essential. For example, if scientists want to test the effect of eating cucumbers on people, to get reliable results, they will pick 1000 people, not 10 or 100. Sometimes a small sample size is unavoidable, but in general, the more, the better.

Step 7

There is always a control group. For example, to test the effect of a drug, scientists need two groups: the people who will take it and those who will give another medication or a pacifier. To not skew the results, the subjects are not told which group they are in: the one receiving the drug or the one receiving a dummy. And it sometimes happens that the scientists themselves do not know to which group the subject belongs.

step 8

Other studies on the same topic often support research results. But it is that scientists pay attention to those studies that confirm the effect and refute it. The publication must necessarily say something about this. This is also known as ‘cherry-picking.’ Select only those studies that support the publication’s hypothesis or conclusion, but ignore those that oppose it. Pseudo-scientists especially like to pick cherries.

step 9

Whatever the research shows, it can consistently be reproduced by other scientists. For example, for verification purposes. With about the same result. If the results differ when you multiply the study, there is something wrong with the original data.

step 10

Finally, all studies published in scientific journals are subject to validation. However, the check can also be wrong. Finally, even the most highly cited research can be flawed or pseudoscientific.

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