Monday, May 23, 2016

John Oliver's "Scientific Studies" with discussion quesions

This hilarious video is making the rounds on the Interwebz. Kudos to John Oliver and his writing team for so succinctly and hilariously summarizing many different research problems...why replication is important but not rewarded, how research is presented to the public, how researchers over-reach about their own findings, etc.  I Tweeted about this, but am making it cannon by sharing as a blog post.

Note: This video has some off-color humor (multiple references to bear fellatio) so it is best suited to college aged students.

I will use this in my Online and Honors classes as discussion prompts. Here are some of the prompts I came up with:

1) In your own words, why aren't replications published? How do you think the scientific community could correct this problem? 
2) In your own words, explain just ONE of the ways in which a RESEARCHER can manipulate their own data and/or research findings. It should be one of the methods of manipulation described within the video. Also, don't just name the method of manipulation, explain it like you would explain it to a friend so that they could become aware of the issue AND know how to spot the problem. 
3) Given what you have learned in this video AND your own experiences, who/what do you think is the most to blame for spreading bad science? 
4) Given your response to item 3, describe one way to correct for this problem of misinterpreted data being shared inappropriately. 

5) Why are replications important?

6) What major shortcoming of the "champagne" study was glossed over by the media? What major shortcoming of the "chocolate/pregnancy" study was glossed over? What is the difference between how study authors handle limitations of their work versus how the media handles shortcomings in their work? 

7) What were the red flags from the "hydration" study. Which do you consider to be the most damning and why?

BONUS POINT: Come up with a catchy pick-up line using the spotty Oxytocin research described in the clip.

Additionally, here is another one of my blog post (with links to other posts) related to the topic of scientific reporting.