Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why You Can't Believe Everything You Read

Writing can be difficult.  Trust me when I say that.  I've been authoring articles for somewhere around 15 years now and it is a lot of work.
However, it's even more work when you are writing for scientific journals.  In my time of authoring articles I've done a few peer reviewed scientific papers and I can tell you from personal experience it is a very difficult process.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for my peers in academia.  Many of them are involved with the multifaceted career of teaching, research, and then publishing the research results in scientific journals.  The amount of work in not only creating the papers, but then locating and citing all the necessary references is a very, very difficult and challenging task.  Add to that the fact that after submission to the journal the article is then reviewed by a number of experts who will require further clarification and citied sources… and you get the idea of just how difficult the whole thing is.
Of course there is a reason for the difficulty in the process.  It is all about ensuring that the data and information presented is accurate, scientifically accepted, and meets the accepted standards of the field and the scientific method.
It's all about making sure that the results published truly and accurately represent true scientific information.
With the above information, you'll know understand why I was concerned and disappointed to read an article recently that referenced 5 different instances of "bad science" that made headlines during 2012.  
We live in a worldwide society with a 24 hour news cycle and with all kinds of websites and TV stations (and in many instances mega TV stations with websites too) there is a near constant demand from these stations and sites to have an endless supply of news stories to broadcast and/or publish.  Because of the demand and because usually scientific matter is so specialized, the info can't be reviewed for accuracy.  The publishers are relying on the original magazines to release quality information.
So… what happens is bad info gets released to the general public and the general public believes it because they trust in the "process" that has let them down by allowing bad information to be released.
This is something that folks need to be aware of I highly recommend that all of us read things with the eyes and mid of a skeptic.  I'm not saying that all science is bad, but we *all* need to do a better job of just not blindly believing everything we read.
Some of this mis-information can even lead us to make decisions that can impact the lives of those we love, such as this information.  
So while I'm not advocating being stubborn jerks about it, I *am* saying we need to make sure we're not just blindly accepting anything put in front of us.  I tend to be a skeptic by nature, but I've been wrong before.  I just want to make sure that when I believe in something, it's worth believing in!!!

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