1. dianne says

    Though I would point out that the issues raised do not necessarily invalidate the results. For example, preliminary studies and even some later studies (i.e. phase II) may not have control groups, for one reason or another. And blinding may be impossible or impractical for certain experiments. Conversely, the lack of any of these problems does not prove that the data are valid. Sometimes the correlation at p<0.01 is a coincidence, even when there is a plausible connection between factor A and result B. More common, though, is the inappropriate extrapolation: the assumption that the results of, say, a phase III study on men with high cholesterol can be applied to women without any further testing. (I suppose that could be considered an unrepresentative sample, but the sample may have been perfectly valid–for the group under study. Just not for other groups.)

  2. dick says

    Tom, I don’t think that a Guide to Bad Religion would be at all redundant. While all religions are bad, some are more so than others.

  3. freemage says

    I’d add 13: Journal Quality. Not all scientific journals are of equal quality; some will accept virtually any paper willing to pay their fee, and others have a specific agenda, selecting only studies that support their biases. Neither practice is going to lead to highly credible publishing.

  4. John Harshman says

    This seems more like a guide to bad medical studies, a subset of bad science.

    I would add a couple:

    14. Citations to papers that, when you actually read them, don’t support the claim being made for them.

    15. Skewed and cherry-picked citation of relevant literature, with significant missing bits.

    16. Dog’s-ass plots.

  5. Holms says

    dianne, a single poster is never going to be a complete guide to winnowing the grain from the chaff; I think this is more a guide to the common red flags.

  6. gmacs says


    I would suggest it’s best to treat all religions as equally irrational and unlikely. In my experience, personal ethics often influence religion more than the other way around. Trying to delineate who is worst always comes off to me as implicitly supportive of religious persecution.

  7. dick says

    gmacs, as a member of a “democratic” society, I cannot support religious persecution.

    But I can support religious discrimination in both my private & public actions. I am free to especially abhor those religions that are the worst offenders for promoting bad things, such as misogyny.

  8. Ed Seedhouse says

    Preaching the the choir I’m afraid. Reading level required is too high for science deniers to even bother reading. “Correlation”? Isn’t that some form of illicit sex?”

  9. gmacs says

    Well, dick, my threshold for misogyny is apparently pretty fucking low, since I find every religion I know of to be guilty of it in some form or another in their scriptures. And I don’t like to get into that Dawkins-style “which-is-more” kind of logic. Misogyny is misogyny.

    That said, I know feminists who subscribe to some form of many of these religions and reject the parts of the religion that promote misogyny. Yes, this is not so very rational, but we are talking about people who believe in an invisible eternal being for no reason other than it’s what they were told as children. I also think it’s fair to point out that there are plenty of irrational beliefs that are not religious or supernatural in nature (eg: treating evopsych hypotheses as tested theory; human biodiversity; nipple confusion).

    You have your free speech to express your belief that some religions are worse than others. I have my free speech to express my opinion that it makes you look as self-important as Harris and Dawkins.

  10. gmacs says

    Matter of fact, if we play “worst offenders” we should all be grateful that some of the highest on the list have gone by the wayside, namely the Greek and Roman pantheons. There’s hardly a story of Zeus that doesn’t involve sexual assault on his part, followed by victim blaming by Hera. Medusa was turned into a monster by Athena for the crime of being raped by Poseidon. And Pandora’s box (actually a jar) is widely excepted by scholars to be a story explaining how women are at fault for all the suffering in the world (the jar is a metaphor for a vagina).

    Should we thank the Abrahamic religions for subduing the supreme Hellenistic oppression and replacing it with their more moderate misogyny?