Monday, November 29, 2010

Even Professors Can Be Crappy Science Writers

The headline and opening to this article are great examples of how science reporting and the (perhaps unconscious) agenda of the writer can plant ideas in the public consciousness that aren't reflected in the study being reported on.

In this case, the study measured hormone levels to determine whether ovulation was taking place and had the study participants choose what to buy. To repeat, *every* participant was told to choose things to buy. Therefore, the study says *nothing* about the impulse to head for the mall as the headline would suggest. Instead, it says, for women already shopping (or, in this case, forced to shop), whether or not they are ovulating will determine the makeup of what ends up in the trunk on the way home.

A slap on the wrist to Prof. Douglas T. Kenrick for sloppy, irresponsible writing. The interesting combination of his use of "in heat," which is normally applied to animals and the subtitle "Women: Hide your credit when you’re ovulating!" make me wonder about the author's relationship to, and view of, women... Kinda of ironic for a blog with the subtitle, "Exploring the simple selfish biases that make us caring, creative, and complex." Professor, study thyself.


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