In the era of ‘fake news’ and ‘anti-vaxxers’, being able to detect the difference between Good Science and Bad Science is critical to see through the nonsense. This 12 point guide is an excellent overview of how you can spot any untruths that you might see floating around your social media pages, you know, like how injecting bicarb soda cures cancer (it doesn’t).
Having worked as a medical researcher for five years, I can attest to the truth of this infographic, which comes courtesy of Compound Interest. A few of the points relate to how medical research is reported on and the idea that this can often be sensationalised or misinterpreted. The media has a role in reporting science fairly and accurately because misunderstandings are now amplified by the rapid dissemination of information through social media.
In other cases, Bad Science is just Bad Science – conflicts of interest, sampling problems and cherry picking are all still encountered routinely in scientific research. Andrew Wakefield published a paper in 1998 that claimed to link the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. The paper was later discredited as fraudulent. His paper, published in prestigious journal The Lancet, contained no controls, had a small sample size and over the ensuing years the results could not be replicated.
Tell tale signs of Bad Science.
I really love point four, which points to the fact that global warming has increased since the 1800s but global numbers of pirates decreased. There’s no relationship between the two, no causation, but they are correlated. That’s an important reminder that when you see a graph that seemingly links two variables together, they may not be related at all.
Don’t believe everything you read.
Without further ado, here’s the guide: