Critical Thinking, Ethics & Science Journalism

As part of my critical thinking class, I cover the usual topics of credibility and experiments/studies. Since people often find critical thinking a dull subject, I regularly look for real-world
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As part of my critical thinking class, I cover the usual topics of credibility and experiments/studies. Since people often find critical thinking a dull subject, I regularly look for real-world examples that might be marginally interesting to students. As such, I was intrigued by John Bohannon’s detailed account of how he “fooled millions into thinking chocolate helps weight loss.” Bohannon’s con provides an excellent cautionary tale for critical thinkers. First, he lays out in detail how easy it is to rig an experiment to get (apparently) significant results. As I point out to my students, a small experiment or study can generate results that seem significant, but really are not. This is why it is important to have an adequate sample size—as a starter. What is also needed is proper control, proper selection of the groups, and so on. Second, he provides a clear example of a disgraceful stain on academic publishing, namely “pay to publish” journals that do not engage in legitimate peer. . .

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News source: Talking Philosophy

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