Monday, July 31, 2017

There is also #FakeScience

I was amused when I came across this bit here (also here), basically proving that there is also Junk Science out there just like there is Fake News. This was obviously a spoof, not trying to pass itself off as real science, but this is a major problem.

Just last night, I was watching a documentary on Netflix that seemed legit about the science of dogs, or what we understand about how they interact with the world. I started getting a bit skeptical when the narrator started going on in a very polite, scholarly sounding way about how "everything we thought we knew" about the subject was wrong.

That is usually code word for "sensationalism in the guise of journalism science is about to follow." I hoped I was wrong, but they were positing some interesting ideas about dog psychology (still not convinced that is actually a thing, but for sake of argument, I will go with it.)

The first half of the show seemed logical, even if I disagreed with a few of the premises. As the show progressed, it got crazier and crazier, saying in essence that dogs do not actually have an alpha dog hierarchy, and they are all just some sort of free spirit hippie dogs out having fun, and that somehow the wolfness of the pack herd mentality had been bred out of the domesticated dog. We evil humans (this was insinuated) had been misjudging how dogs see the world and all that. It devolved into some highly bizarre human racism judgmentalism that we were throwing at the whole of dogkind. Reverse Doggie Paternalism. That was a new one on me. Like I said, it got very strange.

The kicker was they had dug up all these supposed scholars with Ph.D.s from some university in Canada. I found the whole thing to be a big steaming heap of dog poo junk science because I could immediately explain away their hypothesis of no alpha male dogs because the humans were all standing around filming all this behavior, and in good dog training, the human is the alpha dog.

Everyone is talking about fake news. I think an even bigger problem is actually junk science. Most major news sources are not trusted by anyone with half a brain. Poll after poll of people asking the trustworthiness of the media is rock bottom. It makes President Donald Trump look like a popularity mega-star by comparison.

When science comes up with the equivalent junk/fake stuff, though, it is much more insidious. People are much more like to believe "experts" and "scholars" than talking head news media people. Ooh...look, he's got numbers and graphs, therefore it must be true.

This is not to say there is not good, solid science out there, or that I am going all "global warming is hoax" or whatever. That's not what I am getting at. What I am getting at is that one should always be a critical thinker. Logic is key. If it does not make logical sense, chances are, it's fake.

Don't be snookered. Always look at the facts. Always ask questions.

This is important.

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