CASE STUDY: Where do our tribe's crazy claims come from?


No Thumbs On the Scales Left Behind: "How did things ever get this far?"

According to Francis Ford Coppola, that's a question which Vito Corleone once asked. A similar question might be asked of the crazily inaccurate factual claim which appeared in the Washington Post two years ago, and remains uncorrected today.

How did things ever get this far? How did things ever get so far that a crazily inaccurate statement like this could ever appear in print?

NORRIS (12/9/20): We are not just tussling with historical wrongs. A recent study of White medical students found that half believed that Black patients had a higher tolerance for pain and were more likely to prescribe inadequate medical treatment as a result.

"A recent study of White medical students found that half believed that Black patients had a higher tolerance for pain?"

On a simple factual basis, the statement in question is crazily wrong. It's also a deeply invidious statement concerning the most important topic in our failing American life.

How did things ever reach the point where the claim—and many variants of the claim—could ever appear in print? Today, we hope to provide a final accounting of the factors which let that vastly inaccurate, invidious claim go into print at the Post.

We'll start with a game of Telephone. Michele Norris' crazily inaccurate claim begins right here, in the abstract to the UVa study to which Norris refers:


Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to white Americans. We examine whether this racial bias is related to false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites (e.g., “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s skin”). Study 1 documented these beliefs among white laypersons and revealed that participants who more strongly endorsed false beliefs about biological differences reported lower pain ratings for a black (vs. white) target. Study 2 extended these findings to the medical context and found that half of a sample of white medical students and residents endorsed these beliefs.

At least in theory, the authors of the UVa statement were examining an extremely important topic. In practice, they quickly offered an overview statement which is factually false, or is grossly misleading at best.

Is the highlighted statement accurate? Is it true that "half of [their] sample of white medical students and residents endorsed" a set of false beliefs about biological differences?

At best, that statement is grossly misleading. For reasons we'll revisit below, we think it would be more accurate to say that the statement is simply wrong.

Having said that, whatever! A pleasing game of Telephone would soon be underway. In an essay for an august medical org, Professor Sabin offered her version of that statement by the UVa authors. 

In turn, Norris linked to Professor Sabin's essay as she offered her crazily inaccurate claim about what the UVa study had shown:

UVA AUTHORS (4/4/16): Half of a sample of white medical students and residents endorsed a set of false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites.

PROFESSOR SABIN (1/8/20): “Black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s.” “Black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s.” “Black people’s blood coagulates more quickly than white people’s.”

These disturbing beliefs are not long-forgotten 19th-century relics. They are notions harbored by far too many medical students and residents as recently as 2016. In fact, half of trainees surveyed held one or more such false beliefs, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. I find it shocking that 40% of first- and second-year medical students endorsed the belief that “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s.”

NORRIS (12/9/20): A recent study of White medical students found that half believed that Black patients had a higher tolerance for pain.

The professor's statement is more precise than those of the two other parties. That said, she added the emotional resonance about the "shocking" / "disturbing" beliefs of the medical trainees, who she inexcusably described as throwbacks to the 19th century. 

Norris took it from there! Linking to Sabin as her source, she authored a crazily inaccurate account of what the UVa study had shown.

In fact, did any of the medical trainees in the UVa study really "endorse" any of the false beliefs about those biological differences? 

For reasons we'll revisit below, it isn't entirely clear that any of the trainees actually did—but having said that, so what? A poorly stated research finding had made its way to the Washington Post, where it served a tribal interest. 

Norris authored a stunningly inaccurate, invidious claim about These [White] Medical Students Today. Her claim was stunningly inaccurate, but then again so what? 

In these highly tribalized times, our profoundly unimpressive blue tribe loves to make invidious statement concerning matters of race. In our desire to produce such claims, we very frequently work from this framework:

No Thumbs On the Scales Left Behind!

How did things ever get that far? Consider again what Norris said:

In fact, the UVa study only claims that 16 of the 222 (white) medical trainees actually expressed the false belief which Norris specifically mentions—and 16 out of 222 is nowhere close to half!

That's what the UVa study claimed. In fact, it isn't entirely clear that any of the (white) medical students actually "endorsed"—actually said that they believed—the inaccurate statement which Norris specifically cited.

In one of the several major thumbs the study's authors placed on the scales, the authors ruled that a trainee had "endorsed" a specitic false statement if he or she merely said that the statement was possibly true.

The trainees weren't allowed to say that they simply didn't know if some statement was true. And, according to Kevin Drum, almost everyone who was scored as "endorsing" a false belief had actually checked the box which said that it was "possibly true." 

Here is Drum's account:

DRUM (1/4/23): [The medical trainees were] allowed to mark an answer as "possibly," "probably," or "definitely" true or false. With one exception, which I'll get to, virtually every single person who marked a false statement as true said it was only "possibly true." Among all the false statements, there were 229 marks of "possibly true" and only 9 marks of "probably true." There was not a single mark of "definitely true."

The one exception to which Drum refers concerns the statement about thickness of skin. According to Drum, almost no one ever marked any other false statement as even probably true.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. On its face, the research design of the UVa study strikes us a horrible scam, though we'll assume that the authors of the study were acting in total good faith.

At any rate, the thumbs which were placed on the scales began with the authors of the UVa study. When they published their account of what they had found, a game of Telephone ensued.

This short game of Telephone ended up "getting that far"—reaching the point where Norris, and the Washington Post, were publishing a grossly inaccurate factual claim about Those [White] Medical Students.

This grossly inaccurate factual claim involves the most important and consequential part of our failing American life—but so what? It was the kind of invidious racial claim our blue tribe instinctively seems inclined to believe and now desperately loves.

We've decided to stop right here today, with the game of Telephone and with one thumb on the scales. We've decided to wait for another day to list the full array of ways the authors of the UVa study put their thumbs on the scales in their design of this study.

Yesterday, an irate commenter to Kevin Drum's post offered an irate comment concerning Drum's assessment that UVa study was an ungodly mess. Below, you see what the irate commenter said—and in truth, we think this irate comment only makes our tribe's performance seem worse:

COMMENTER PERRY (1/4/23): Like Somerby, Drum substitutes his own lack of knowledge for the judgment of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) peer reviewers and pain researchers, dismisses a result he does not wish to acknowledge, and pretends that every study should be accessible to the general public without any background or training in medicine, pain research, measurement (creation of surveys) or experimental research. Neither Drum nor Somerby would be saying anything about this study if it did not touch on race, and the defensiveness of both men is obvious. 

The irate commenter notes the fact that the UVa study passed through the hands of academic peer reviewers. Given the many baldly obvious shortcomings of the UVa study, this only makes it more amazing that things could have gotten this far.

(Inevitably, the irate commenter goes on to suggest that criticism of the UVa study is a result of bad faith in the area of race. According to all major experts, our brains are wired to produce such ad hominem denunciations—and for that reason, our own blue tribe will never stop producing these deeply unhelpful invidious claims concerning matters of race.)

We've shown you the way the game of Telephone worked. For the record, let us return to another high-level version of what the UVa study showed.

This version comes from Linda Villarosa, writing in the New York Times Sunday Magazine:

VILLAROSA (4/11/18): In 2016, a study by researchers at the University of Virginia examined why African-American patients receive inadequate treatment for pain not only compared with white patients but also relative to World Health Organization guidelines. The study found that white medical students and residents often believed incorrect and sometimes “fantastical” biological fallacies about racial differences in patients. For example, many thought, falsely, that blacks have less-sensitive nerve endings than whites, that black people’s blood coagulates more quickly and that black skin is thicker than white. 

Villarosa isn't a general interest journalist, as Michele Norris is. Villarosa is a highly-regarded medical specialist whose current book, Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation, has been chosen by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year.

Villarosa is a major medical specialist, but her highlighted statements about the UVa are just flatly false.. Beyond that, she adds the claim that These White Medical Students Today don't simply believe claims which are false. According to Villarosa, These White Medical Students Today believe fallacies which are "fantastical" concerning racial differences!

How did things ever get this far? In the end, only the anthropologists and the psychologists can hope to answer that question. But in our next report, we'll list the various thumbs on the scales which are found in the widely-cited UVa study.

Our own blue tribe is able to see The Crazy which often prevails with the red tribe. We have little ability to see the astonishing way our own tribe functions as we churn invidious claims about the most important single topic in our failing American life.

Next: Thumbs on scales? Let us count the ways!


  1. "A similar question might be asked of the crazily inaccurate factual claim which appeared in the Washington Post two years ago, and remains uncorrected today."

    Is there nothing new that Somerby can howl at? He has beaten this subject to death, repeating his same errors because he doesn't read his own comments. (Who does that? Not someone interested in truth, discussion or feedback.) Only propagandists repeat an incorrect message over and over, trying to hammer their mistakes into people's heads, instead of trying to understand what was said in a study that Somerby obviously did not understand (assuming he even read it).

  2. tl;dr
    "The irate commenter notes the fact that the UVa study passed through the hands of academic peer reviewers."

    Peer review is bullshit, dear Bob. An institution totally destroyed by your brain-dead tribe. And every normal-ordinary humyn being knows it.

    ...see here:

  3. Interesting the idiot mh used the term "endorsed" in the same crazy way yesterday, stupidly claiming Drum "endorsed" the study.

    1. mh pointed out that Drum's summary of the result was the same as that claimed by the study itself.

      The word endorse is used differently here than it would be if you were saying that a candidate was endorsed by someone, or the way you would say that someone endorsed a check by signing it on the back.

      Here is its meaning in a medical context:

      "The word “endorse” often appears in the medical literature and is heard in oral presentations; psychiatrists use the term to mean that a person is reporting psychiatric symptoms or problems"

      In this study, the subjects are selecting a particular response from a set of options. They are "endorsing" whichever option they have selected. mh extended that to the result of the study itself, saying that Drum endorsed that result, because he reported the same outcome as the authors.

      You are stupidly claiming that this is a misuse of the word, when you yourself appear to be ignorant of this common usage in this research context. This makes you the "idiot."

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Your quote refers to a psychiatric context, not a medical one, idiot.

    4. Psychiatry is a medical field, you idiot. Doctors practice psychiatry.

      This illustrates one of the problems when people who read a technical report do not understand that technical language is being used and apply their everyday understanding and get confused.

    5. 10:34 probably didn’t know that because he gets his antipsychotic medication on the black market.

    6. Drum isn't a participant in the study or a psychiatrist giving an oral presentation. Nice try retard.

    7. The term endorse is not only used by psychiatrists. It is used across different medical specialities and in medical research, as in this study.

      We get it that Drum doesn't know what he is reading or talking about, because he is not any kind of specialist in medicine, much less a pain expert. That is the point we have been trying to make.

  4. "and were more likely to prescribe inadequate medical treatment as a result."

    Notice what Somerby has chosen to put in boldface. Not this phrase, which is the whole point of the study. Instead, he boldfaces the part that Norris took directly from the study itself, claiming that it is incorrect.

    At the heart of Somerby's complaint is the number of students endorsing incorrect beliefs about black physiology. The study says that 50% endorsed one or more such statements.

    Somerby and Drum object to the strength of belief expressed by the med student subjects. Commenter Perry explains several things, including (1) the rating scale was used as a composite variable, not each question individually, so selecting and examing the wrong statements one by one, is inappropriate, (2) subjects do treat a possibly true answer as different than a possibly false answer, despite Somerby's insistence that they are logically equivalent (as shown by scaling studies), (3) when people are unsure of answers, that is when racial bias can have an effect -- when they are sure, they rely on knowledge, when unsure, bias can influence their results, so the propensity to choose possibly true when considering false info is meaningful.

    Somerby either did not read the comment, or chooses not to address it. Instead, he engages in his own attacks against several journalists who repeated the results of a study Somerby is motivated to overturn because of its racial content. Is this an ad hominem attack? It is a simple fact that Somerby has returned to this study ONLY to chastise Norris and others and to talk about how liberals focus on race -- he has singled out no other medical study for such attention, despite the many that are published each year, espeically in the 8 years since this PNAS study appeared and the two years single he last ranted about this particular study.

    It would be nice if Somerby and Drum cared about undertreatment for pain as much as they seem to care about how med students rate false statements in the absence of teaching about black physiology.

    1. Thank you for your comment Perry.

    2. You are welcome, assuming you went to Kevin Drum's blog and read what was posted there, which Somerby does not excerpt here -- he only presents Drum's comment on the study (because it supports his own views). Does that seem like an even-handed way to examine a topic, or has Somerby again put his thumb on those scales?

  5. "(Inevitably, the irate commenter goes on to suggest that criticism of the UVa study is a result of bad faith in the area of race. According to all major experts, our brains are wired to produce such ad hominem denunciations—and for that reason, our own blue tribe will never stop producing these deeply unhelpful invidious claims concerning matters of race.)"

    Somerby doesn't seem to understand that the FACT of undertreatment of minorities for pain is established in the literature by many studies. These studies used chart review to compare the pain treatment of white and black patients entering medical settings with the same disorders. There are studies of cancer pain showing that black patients receive less medication than white patients. There are studies of ER treatment for things like broken limbs. There are studies of dental patients. In all of these different contexts involving pain, undertreatment of black patients has been documented by the records kept by nurses and doctors in real life situations.

    The point of the UVa study was to explore WHY this documented undertreatment was happening. They assumed it might not be racism but lack of knowledge about black physiology, perhaps mistaken beliefs arising from lack of training or experience with black patients. To examine this, they needed to (1) establish that subjects did hold mistaken beliefs, and (2) that the beliefs would be associated with less pain treatment in a medical setting.

    What is wrong with Somerby's approach. First, he ignores that this is NOT a study examining racism. It is a study of the contribution of false beliefs to undertreatment of pain. Second, he disputes whether students held mistaken beliefs, considering the beliefs endorsed to be insufficiently strong. Somerby thinks that the students should have been more sure about their mistaken knowledge, even though there is no reason why that should be so, given that the beliefs are MISTAKEN. Third, Somerby ignores the link between the beliefs and the less accurate treatment decisions of those holding such beliefs.

    Somerby then ignores the judgment about the study of peer reviewers, the fact that the study was published after experts had the chance to identify mistakes in the study. He substitutes his own judgment, claiming that the mistakes in the study are OBVIOUS.

    If we assume that Somerby's criticisms of the rating scale are correct, there are several problems. Somerby would need to explain why such weak endorsements nevertheless predicted pain undertreatment in the second part of the study, dealing with pain assessment. He has not done so. Somerby has entirely ignored that part of the study, not even telling readers here that it was done. If the subjects did not hold mistaken beliefs, one would expect a null finding, no particular relationship, and yet there was a significant result and a correlation between amount of actual training and lack of wrong beliefs. Perry suggested an explanation for those significant results. Perry said that in the absence of knowledge, then bias may guide the choice of responses to the survey. Those who are biased to think of black people in certain ways would be more likely to select possible true (for a false statement) than those who were not relying on stereotypes, who would select possibly false instead. The absence of knowledge allows stereotypes to emerge. This idea is supported by the fact that those endorsing more false statements did assess black patients less accurately than white patients. That shows the impact of the false knowledge on pain treatment, justifying the conclusion of the authors. Note that Somerby doesn't tell you today what Perry said about the study -- just the conclusion Perry drew about Somerby and Drum's motives, as Somerby puts his huge, lumbering thumb on the scales again.

  6. "These White Medical Students Today don't simply believe claims which are false. According to Villarosa, These White Medical Students Today believe fallacies which are "fantastical" concerning racial differences!"

    What does fantastical mean? Strange, weird, fanciful. People vary in their physiology, whether white or black. A fantastical belief is one that goes beyond normal human variability to include non-human capacities. Is being impervious to pain, super-strong, fantastical?

    Beliefs about super strength are what led Wilson the cop to shoot 18 year old Michael Brown, who was unarmed and moving toward Wilson, terrifying him (as reported by Wilson). Might the cop have been less terrified if he had regarded Brown as a more normal person?

    Our brutal racial history contained such fantastical beliefs about slaves. Those beliefs about thickness of skin justified using brutal whipping as a punishment (motivator) for minor disobedience or failure to work hard enough. Those beliefs about imperviousness to pain justified the extreme number of lashes doles out. It also justified providing inadequate housing and food to slaves, causing them to suffer cold and hunger. It justified failure to treat the wounds and illness of slaves. It extended to feelings, which were assumed to be coarse and blunted among slaves, justifying separating familes, disallowing marriage. And of course, slaves were considered stupid, which justified failure to educate them (which might have led to rebellion or plotting escapes).

    We have a heritage that leads directly to modern failure to consider black people fully human in their physiology. Such beliefs are implicit in images and treatment that linger today, despite our conscious knowledge that black people are people, and thus can still influence judgments in the absence of specific training.

    Somerby is unwilling to acknowledge this, so he attacks the evidence. Why would someone who doesn't believe in the existence of racism work so hard to discredit a study that is suggesting that lack of knowledge is the problem, not racism? It makes no sense at all. And if this is only about accuracy in journalism, why does Somerby even bother attacking the studies themselves? That makes no sense either.

    I believe that a person of good faith should be willing to help erase lingering effects of our brutal racial history -- not working extra hard to pretend they don't exist.

  7. “Is the highlighted statement accurate? Is it true that "half of [their] sample of white medical students and residents endorsed" a set of false beliefs about biological differences?”

    He keeps asking the same questions over and over without ever answering them.

    Is he questioning the 50% number? Or what? Can Somerby not make his criticism clear and concise?

    Posting the same complaints and inuendos over and over does not advance any actual proof that the study was wrong or misleading or scam-adjacent.

    All of the data for the study is available online here:

    There is a spreadsheet with a row for every single participant and their responses to every single question.

    Surely, if you want to contend that the 50% number is wrong, or “misleading”, you could prove it by referring to the data.

    Or is Somerby still going on about the presence of “possibly true” and “possibly false”?

    He wants to call that aspect of the methodology into question, even though it is perfectly valid, but cannot explain why the results lead to, as Drum said, noticeable results. The study shows, as borne out by the data, that there is a correlation between the responses the students gave to the statements about black physiology and their pain rating and hence treatment recommendation.

    Here is what the study did:
    1. The med students were asked to respond to 15 statements about black vs white physiology, some true, many false.
    2. The med students were presented with a hypothetical suffering patient (black or white), and asked to rate the level of pain they thought the patient was suffering.
    3. The med students were asked to recommend a treatment.
    4. 2 and 3 were correlated with 1 to derive a graph of white pain level vs black pain level. Of the students who agreed with one or more of the false statements, which was 50% of them, the pain rating they gave the black patient was consistently lower than the pain rating they gave the white patient. The discrepancy between the black and white pain rating is larger the more false statements the med students agreed with. Even Drum stated that this result was noticeable.

    This is what you must debunk if you want to call the study “misleading” or “scam adjacent”, as Somerby did yesterday.

    1. mh - Drum acknowledged there was a 15% difference which he said was minimal. You leave that part out. You also leave out the part in the UVa report about the 50% of students who didn't give any "wrong" answers. Those students underestimated the pain of white patients. What do you make of the apparent bias of these students toward white patients? What I make out of it is that it supports the conclusion that the study is meaningless. You also don't acknowledge that Norris' characterization of what the report says is false, which is TDH's main point. You have your thumbs pressing down on the scale - and you don't seem to see that. Your're not objective.

    2. You need a baseline if you are going to refer to underestimation or overestimation. If you don't know what the correct level of pain was, then the over- and under- is meaningless. In clinical settings, there is an established standard of care that would dictate what was under and over treatment.

      And no, the study is not meaningless. Drum is wrong about that. He makes a few ignorant criticisms and then draws the motivated conclusion he wishes to find -- that the study can be ignored. But that shows a racial bias, not a serious critique. The peer reviewers of this study, who are actual experts, would have called the study meaningless or, more accurately, not worth publishing, had that been the case. I trust their judgment before I would consider Somerby and Drum's mistaken complaints valid. They have the training and experience to see what is right and wrong with the study. Somerby and Drum do not. Neither do you, apparently.

      If you have two lines in a bar graph and one is taller than the other, there is no way of knowing whether the taller bar is unusually tall or the lower bar is unusually short, unless you have a baseline bar that the two bars can be compared to, to determine which one is close to that baseline and which is the one that actually differs from it.

      The study established that the students who believed more false statements about black physiology also rated pain lower in black targets than in white ones. Without knowing what the normal level of pain would be, there is no way to say that the pain of white targets was being underestimated by those with more correct answers, as Drum claimed. He has no way to know this. That makes his criticism incorrect, since he is making a claim that cannot be evaluated using this data set.

      The finding by the authors, on the other hand, is not based on whose lines are higher and whose are lower, but rather on the correlation between the mistaken beliefs and the tendency to rate black targets lower than white ones among those with more mistaken beliefs. Drum skipped that -- he doesn't acknowledge it or discuss it. Like Somerby, he raises invalid complaints about the rating scale, and calls the study negligible while making several mistakes in the interpretation of the study.

      Here is another one that Drum makes. He says the magnitude of the difference between those who endorsed a given statement and those who did not is too small to make a comparison. He does that while looking at single questions (except for the one about skin thickness, which he thinks is big enough to matter). What Drum misses is that these false statements are intended to be a repeated measurement of wrong belief, not stand-alone questions considered one by one. When something very small is being measured, you do not make one single measurement. You measure the same phenomenon many times, so that the accumulated differences will be large enough to be measurable.

      When researcher measure reaction times, a difference between two groups (males vs females for example) will be too small to measure after a single trial. Instead, thousands of trials are measured so that over that many button presses, a slight different in one reaction time, will add up across those thousands of button presses. This is the classic way that Helmholtz measured the difference in neural transmissions rates and calculated the speed of an action potential down a neuron, without any sophisticated equipment or computers, just a stop watch. He accumulated neural transmissions across many repeated nerve stimulations and added up the differences.

      That is what using 15 mistaken statements does instead of one question. It allows small differences to become bigger, measurable differences. The fact that those means across the questions resulted in significant correlations is what Drum should have noticed. They would never be significant if they were too small, as he claims.

    3. Perry, with all due respect, I don't think you make a credible argument in the least. It wasn't Drum who said the 50% of students who answered all the questions "correctly" underestimated the pain of the white hypothetical patient - it was the study itself. One of the 15 propositions in the study was that blacks' bones are denser and stronger than whites'. This proposition was one of the 4 in the study that were characterized as "correct." You seem to be saying that a false answer to this question, that there isn't a disparity between whites and blacks on bone strength is evidence of racial bias. The study is in English. You also ignore the main point here - that Norris (and the woke narrative that has arisen from this study) egregiously distorted what the study purports to say. (I could go on at length with other flaws in the study's reasoning but will defer on that).

  8. “The irate commenter notes the fact that the UVa study passed through the hands of academic peer reviewers. Given the many baldly obvious shortcomings of the UVa study”

    So many shortcomings that Somerby can’t quite describe them in 20 posts over three weeks.

    Perhaps we should all jeer at the idea of peer review (Mao did), and leave our search for knowledge in the hands of demagogues, dilettantes, and bloggers with an enlarged sense of their own intellectual abilities and a massive chip on their shoulders who can’t quite manage to slay the race-baiting(lol) UVa study in a frustrating string of 20 posts over three weeks.

    One senses a bit of, shall we say, indignation, that “Perry” refuses to bow to Somerby’s weak attempts at debunking the study.

    Keep it up, Perry. Somerby can’t let this go.

  9. "Anti-McCarthy Republicans Are Raising Money Off Chaos
    January 6, 2023 at 11:14 am EST By Taegan Goddard

    Rolling Stone: “The 20 or so Republicans who have opposed Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the speakership — and thus prevented the House of Representatives from swearing in its members and beginning its business — have claimed they’re doing so in the name of draining the swamp. They’ve put forth no viable alternative, nor have they been swayed by any of the concessions McCarthy had made in an effort to woo them. They have, however, received plenty of press for their efforts.”

    “Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), two of the staunchest opponents of McCarthy’s bid for the speakership, are now trying to cash in on all the attention.”

  10. Speaking of peer review, why not examine one of the many studies about lead and its connection to crime? Are there some studies that lead to contradictory or inconclusive results? Do they contain “weird and unclear statistics?” Would Somerby or Drum feel qualified to tackle those studies? If one of them showed a weak or inconclusive connection between lead and the crime rate, would Somerby attack the study as misleading or scam-adjacent, and accuse the researchers of having an agenda?

    Let me be clear: peer review and scientific investigation are not flawless, because human beings are doing it. And we are not flawless. But flaws do not destroy the validity or importance of research and peer review.

    If you believe that peer review is highly subject to bias, and therefore useless, you would need to make a convincing case about that, and also suggest some alternate “foolproof” way of seeking knowledge.

    1. Your lizard brain denies that lead causes crime.

  11. Today is the anniversary of the 1/6 Insurrection. So far, crickets from Somerby about that.

    Tom Sullivan at Digby's blog sez:

    "Either from the outside, as insurrectionists did two years ago today, or from the inside, as the Insurrection Caucus has this week in the GOP’s internecine battle over electing a speaker. It’s political punk rock with guns.

    They reject technical ability and virtuosity the way rock critic Robert Christgau said the early punks “scornfully rejected the political idealism and Californian flower-power silliness of hippie myth.” The GOP’s political punks reject the give-and-take of democracy for the “nihilistic swagger” of performative norm-breaking (New York Times):

    “It’s not about policies, it’s about the fight,” said Doug Heye, a former aide to Representative Eric Cantor, the onetime majority leader who lost his seat in a stunning 2014 upset by a far-right challenger, David Brat. “The more you hear the word ‘fight’ or ‘fighter,’ the less you hear about a strategy for winning that fight.”

    That’s because winning is no more their goal than governing is.

    Chris Stirewalt, a former editor at Fox News, said that “what happens online, on talk radio and on Fox prime time has been and will continue to be the harbinger of what House Republicans will do.” He added that the representatives and congressional aides he was speaking with were “all talking about how their positions were playing with the different hosts and sites.”


    Note the commonality with Somerby's own rejection of technical skill, knowledge, expertise.

    1. For the second time in three years, Right-wing snowflakes are throwing a childish temper tantrum at the United States Capitol.

    2. 2 years. The insurrectionist caucus apparently think they were given a mandate from the '22 midterms.

  12. I endorse Einstein’s explanation of the theory of relativity.

  13. I'm accustomed to media twisting their news reports to fit a preferred narrative. I'm sad to see academic researchers doing the same thing in their abstract. I'd guess that the researchers believed, correctly, that their inaccurate abstract would cause more attention to be paid.

    Conservatives complain about the loss of faith in our institutions. This example shows why. It leaves the upsetting question, "Who can you trust?" The answer seems to be "Nobody." :(

    1. You’re sad to see researchers twisting news reports to fit a narrative? Please explain. Or not.

    2. This silly comment has caused me to revise my previous opinion of you. I would have thought that you, at least, might have understood the stats and seen through Somerby's sophistry.

  14. Bob’s utter silence on Jan 6 does speak
    a volume or two. It must have driven him
    little crazy he couldn’t find some minor
    mistake in the reporting to hammer on.
    He did make some fairly inane, dishonest
    attacks on the committee.