Spotting Bad Science

Compound Interest has produced another great infographic in their series. This one helps us to spot bad science.

 Click to enlarge.  You can download the current version as a PDF here.

It is worth thinking about each of the suggested 12 criteria.

I particularly liked that it advises one to carefully evaluate scientific papers even when they are published in a reputable journal. A good journal and peer review is not a guarantee that the paper is faultless or that its findings can be accepted without proper consideration.

6 responses to “Spotting Bad Science

  1. Do I detect a slight shift in your previous dogmatic stance on CWF Ken?
    You have previously stated “Such issues are very complex and a proper consideration of the claims made by different sides and those made by their experts requires a level of expertise not usually held by council members. While scientists and health experts may have sufficient contact with the literature and familiarity with literature searching and checking methods to evaluate the claims, councillors usually do not.”
    You now seem to be saying there needs to be caution in considering the claims made by experts on both sides and that even peer reviewed material needs to be questioned. That is what many of those opposed to adding HFA to drinking water have been saying since the 1980s but these folk, many of them experts in their respective fields have been ostracised and denigrated for their temerity in questioning the science behind CWF. It has become obvious that the need for a reconsideration of the science that stemmed from the development of the A bomb and cold war politics is growing.


  2. Nothing inconsistent, Trev.

    The scientific literature must always be approached intelligently and critically. That is the normal approach of working scientists – they don’t accept things as gospel just because of publication in a reputable journal and peer review.

    That is quite different to the cherry picking and confirmation bias of dogmatic anti-fluoridation and naive councillors like Dave Mac. Intelligent and critical analysis is not the same as uncritical and unintelligent assumption that something is wrong.

    You guys would not recognise the intelligent and critical approach of good science if you tripped over it. It is quite outside your experience.

    Hence your confusion.



  3. “Ken – you are unfortunately an arrogant scientist that thinks this issue is just about science. It is also about politics, morals and (in my opinion) primarily about public health, which I have a fair bit of experience in. I reject your science-centred approach, noting also – which you continue to ignore, that there is science on both sides of this issue, and that even Peter Gluckman states it is no longer a science issue. If you are unhappy that local government is judging on what you regard as a science issue, then go and complain to the successive Govts that have required local govt to make this decision for their communities, don’t complain to those handed the hot potato! If me calling a spade a spade is rude, then tough. Go to someone that will bow and scrape before your science degree – because you won’t get me to be insincere and tell you what you want to hear if I don’t agree with it.”
    Dave Macpherson


  4. Yes, Kane – an example of Dave’s naivity regarding science. He sure made a fool of himself being captured by the fluoride free fanatics, didn’t he? And he was really out of his depth when confronted with some real science – as his personal attack on me showed. His ignorance is not a problem (we are all ignorant of things and he has no science background) but his arrogant attacks on concerned voters (not just me) was pure political stupidity.

    Even fluoride free NZ attacks him now because of his defection from their cause in Hamilton.

    Meanwhile, Kane, you are still refusing to provide a link to you own submission to the Hamilton City Council (and the ammusing video). What’s the matter – feeling ashamed?


  5. Kane, can you please inform us (with link) as to where the Macpherson quote comes from.
    Is it from a transcript of the submission process or something?
    Also, in future, please don’t paste poorly cited or unsourced quotes etc.


  6. Kane, you are still refusing to provide a link to you own submission to the Hamilton City Council

    I add my vote to Ken’s request.


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