October 31, 2007

Go Ahead, Shoot the Messenger

"That is to say, research is often dismissed in media accounts on ad hominem grounds, because of the researcher's convictions or his funding source" (152).

Chapter 9 in It Ain't Necessarily So looks at how peer reviewed journals are not always the best, since the peers might have had an agenda while reviewing the article. (As someone who has learned to put a lot of importance on peer reviewed sources for research paper thanks to Dr. Jerz, this was slightly surprising) Often, the media ignores the findings of the article and instead focuses on how it was funded- like a study showing the benefits of calcium funded by the dairy corporations. The results are often dismissed as biased and therefore not useable if the media focuses more on the funders than the research itself. However, can you blame them? Perhaps I'm just used to the media conditioning, but if I'm reading a story about how bad Coca-Cola is for you, funded by the Pepsi Co., of course I'm not going to put as much faith in the resutls. As we have learned, polls, surveys, and research studies can be skewed one way or the other, depending on what is the desired result. Sure, the research itself might carry a lot of meaning, but allowing the names of the funders to come out can greatly impact how that study is viewed in the public eye.

"But reporters who excelled at conveying one part of the explanation paid no heed to an important second part" (170).

Chapter 10 takes on the idea that the media is often so focused on one part of a study or research that it fails to see the rest. This sounds familiar...haven't we learned this previously? Yes, the media picks and chooses what it reports and how, whether it is by only emphasising the bad side of the story or making something out of nothing. There is always a story behind the story, the good behind the bad, and more facts behind those presented. Nothing is as it seems- polls and surveys aren't always done correctly, stories are reported on without having all the information, and scientific research neglects to look at all sides of a problem.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at October 31, 2007 11:34 AM | TrackBack

Yes, the dirty secret about peer review is that it isn't objective, and it can be misused. For freshman research papers, any peer review is better than none, but in some cases where politics and big money are closely intertwined with research, well...

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 31, 2007 4:08 PM

I was also surprised to learn the true life of peer-reviewed journals/articles. Throughout my college career thus far they've basically been regarded as the holy-grail of research texts. But I'm starting to wonder - if these sources can't even be trusted, what can?!

Posted by: Jackie Johns at October 31, 2007 4:55 PM

(10)Yes, he does put am emphasis on peer-reviewd material.But I have always taken the material as credible, without ever considering other agendas? What if Brind's research was being critisized by people who were all pro-choice? Do their views motivate and enter their crticism? There is never any guarantee that only one side is biased.

(9)As to your Coca-cola analogy, the same holds true for me and political ads. If there is a negative ad about "candidate A" financed by "citizens for candidate B", I'm not going to take the ad as credible information about the candidate.

Posted by: Daniella Choynowski at November 1, 2007 10:10 AM

I agree that allowing names of funders can skew the polls. I recently bought a product that was out of my price range, but because of the statistics-which I really wanted to beleive even after all the discussions in this class, I bought anyway. I am biased toward the product so I believe the hype-I'm one of the stupid people we read about in this book.

Posted by: Shannon Moskal at November 1, 2007 1:58 PM

it seems peer-reviewed work is a tricky subject. Is something better b/c ppl have looked it over and deemed it credible? or should we be asking just who is doing the reviewing? I agree that their are biases going into some peer-reviewed work and that ultimately it is up to the reader to decide whats true.

Posted by: Jara White at November 2, 2007 9:53 AM
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