Some people are easily fooled

Via Ally Fogg, the BMJ has published their annual satirical science story, as they do, and as usual, various slackish and hackish news sites have republished it as true (Hello, HuffPo!), and in addition, this time they’ve sucked in the MRAs! In this case, it’s because they published a stereotyped scenario of men trying so hard to make women happy and making them miserable in the process. You’d think they’d have noticed the second sentence of the abstract:

Mathieu encourages her psychotherapy clients “to try to live in the gray. There are a million shades of gray” (although a recent erotic novel suggests there are only 50) “on the spectrum of white to black, and each provides a much richer telling of a story that is hardly ever as clear as this or that. So, when we looked a bit more closely, we saw that ‘right versus happy’ was not so much about getting crowned the winner or loser, a genius or fool; it was more about flawed thinking and a desire to want to feel being in control.”

No clues there? OK, maybe they could have read the discussion:

The study has some limitations. There was no trial registration, no ethics committee approval, no informed consent, no proper randomisation, no validated test instrument, and questionable statistical assessment. We used the eyeball technique for single patient trials which, as Sackett says, “more closely matches the way we think as clinicians.

Yeah, clever bunch in the media and the ranks of the MRAs.

Comments

  1. Owlmirror says

    Mathieu encourages her psychotherapy clients “to try to live in the gray. There are a million shades of gray” (although a recent erotic novel suggests there are only 50)

    Hmph.

    Technically, there are 65,536 shades of grey, if you’re using a format that supports the full 16-bits.

    (Cue spelling flamewar over “grey”/”gray”.)

  2. says

    Technically, the number of perceptual shades of gray is determined by your visual system. It’s somewhere less than 64K.

    Or the actual number of gray shades is a continuum defined by the range of amplitudes of broad spectrum illumination, and is actually an analog value that cannot be delimited by an arbitrary number.

  3. says

    Sadly, Sokal’s … Hermeneutics of quantum gravity still appears in bibliographies of post-modernist “articles” long after he revealed it’s a hoax. Sokal and Bricmont’s book on this subject starts with a wonderful quote:

    So long as authority inspires awe, confusion and absurdity enhance conservative tendencies in society. Firstly, because clear and logical thinking leads to a cumulation of knowledge (of which the progress of the natural sciences provides the best example) and the advance of knowledge sooner or later undermines the traditional order. Confused thinking, on the other hand, leads nowhere in particular and can be indluged indefinitely without producing any impact upon the world. — Stanislav Andreski, Social sciences as Sorcery (1972, p. 90)

    I like that people continue to ridicule this pompous nonsense that occurs in academia and other places and the fact that “new” outlets fall for it shows we still have a long way to go in getting rid of this silliness. Which reminds me of a great video from the Mr. Deity channel: Get your guru going. Hilarious as usual.

  4. Gregory Greenwood says

    Yeah, clever bunch in the media and the ranks of the MRAs.

    Come on PZ – you didn’t seriously expect them to engage their brains before rushing to get their fix of profitable sensationalism/manufactured outrage (delete as appropriate), did you?

    MRAs in particular are so desperate for anything that gives even the flimsiest and most transitory veneer of credibility to their obsessive hatred of women that they will jump at anything that seems to give them support, no matter how patently ridiculous.

    If there was an article claiming to ‘prove’ that all women were in fact shapeshifting alien parasites that survived on a diet of stolen essence semen and the stereotypical single, manly tears shed in secret by broken hearted blokes otherwise cut off from those troublesome emotions of theirs, then you would probably find at least a few regulars at the likes of AVfM who would consider it nothing less than their eureka moment…

  5. Holms says

    …and in addition, this time they’ve sucked in the MRAs!

    I like gloating over the idiocy of the MRA types as much as the next reasonable person, but before we get our gloat on this time, I should point out that only nine people have made a comment on this ‘report’. Equating that to ‘the MRAs’ being taken in is a tad premature.

  6. says

    Wow. “We ignored scientific protocol because it felt like the best approach” wasn’t the written equivalent of an air-raid siren?! Demonstrates why active reading, critical thinking and engagement with the material is so important.

    As for the MRM …. is anyone shocked? Between bias-affirming pseudoscience and active sabotage of sexual violence reporting systems, I’m confident an MRA will grasp at any straw. That’s a group that can never build enough scarecrows.

  7. Artor says

    Holms, you must have missed the highlighted link where this was reposted on a “Men’s Forum” site, with much offended ranting.

  8. Holms says

    Holms, you must have missed the highlighted link where this was reposted on a “Men’s Forum” site, with much offended ranting.

    I must have. After checking every link in both this and Ally’s post, I still have yet to see it. Perhaps you could point it out? Interestingly, the comment thread over there has someone saying exactly the same cautionary note as me.

  9. says

    The criticism seems a little harsh. After all, the paper’s research standards easily meet or exceed those of most creationist tracts.

  10. says

    I have a rather dim view of MGTOWs’ ability to distinguish fact and fiction. These are people who think that feminists hate them for “going on strike” on relationships. Pshhh, like we’re so hurt by the fact that mgtows won’t join the dating pool.

  11. Holms says

    wondering, that’s precisely what I was referring to when I said “I should point out that only nine people have made a comment on this ‘report’. Equating that to ‘the MRAs’ being taken in is a tad premature.” If you follow that link, you’ll see that it still only has nine unique names commenting (none of whom were doing what I would consider “much offended ranting” as you claimed), and I still consider that far too little to be able to claim that the MRAs as a whole have been taken in.

    There is certainly some temptation to point out their stupidity on other occasions when they actually demonstrate it, but don’t invent fuckups when they didn’t make one.

  12. vaiyt says

    These are people who think that feminists hate them for “going on strike” on relationships.

    If only they would, instead of screaming incessantly to women about it.

  13. says

    @Holms,
    The thread also has 90 likes. You’d also expect that if any lurkers realized the story was satirical, they’d be more likely to delurk than usual. FWIW…

  14. anchor says

    Owlmirror and PZ, #1 AND 2:

    “Or the actual number of gray shades is a continuum defined by the range of amplitudes of broad spectrum illumination, and is actually an analog value that cannot be delimited by an arbitrary number.”

    Well, actually, it can be measurably delimited for individuals exposed to a broad amplitude as well as spectrum range in the illumination of the subject. And when contextual comparison is supplied, the differences some individuals who are adept at observing can detect is very much greater than 64K.

  15. Ichthyic says

    There is certainly some temptation to point out their stupidity on other occasions when they actually demonstrate it, but don’t invent fuckups when they didn’t make one.

    since you’re doing a loose statistical analysis of the measure of the reaction of MRAs using the responses to this article…. as you say, there are less than a dozen responses on that MRA site.

    which one of those responses correctly called it a fake?

    well?

    which MRA sites were clearly demonstrating their knowledge that this was nothing but a joke?

    well?

    stop playing pretend statistician, and use what you have in front of you.

    what we have in front of us, are MRA’s, by example, not only taking the study as fact, but making some rather humorously stupid commentary on top.

    go ahead, tell me all MRAs are really smarter than that. go on. show me the FUCKING DATA.