Recently, a survey of fifty college-aged Australians from the same school was cited as being “scientific proof” that penis size matters. Then just this week it was revealed that three out of 10 registered voters from a pool of 800 thinks we’ll end up in an armed rebellion! I’ve found a link between these amazing discoveries and autism research!!
They REALLY do in fact all have something in common, a correlation that links them all.
Before I explain the missing link, I want to tell you a story.
My junior year of college we were asked to critique other classmate’s projects. The projects were concerning different issues in childhood/parenting. We had to create a presentation about the issue, as well as create educational materials geared towards families. One project was on pornography. Much of the information she provided was factual (about child pornography, dangers of children viewing pornography online, etc.). However, on her materials she had written, “Online pornography viewing causes physical and sexual child abuse.”
A study was cited underneath the quote. I looked it up, because my own negative views of pornography aside, I have a hard time believing pornography causes sexual abuse, or that every pornography viewer is a child abuser.
I found out that the study was conducted by sending two hundred self-professed sex addicts an email questionnaire. Of this two hundred people about twenty admitted to using corporal punishment that they worried was excessive.
This is not cause, this is not even correlation. THIS is really poor science
I pointed this out, and was told by her and other classmates that I was being a big meany. The professor sided with me, thanked me for my devotion to research, but let the quote stand. Recent studies on the importance of penis size as well as registered voters and armed rebellion have this in common with autism research= Really poor science.
For scientific study to yield any data worth drawing conclusions from the study requires a few things:
· A large representative sample
(that is it needs to be enough study participants that are representative of a population – 200 sex addicts do not represent the American population that views pornography)
· Specific results (
the data needs to be objective – in this case the definition of abuse would have needed to be defined, not to mention there cannot be any other factors involved that could confuse results)
· Results need to be repeated in subsequent studies
before any conclusions can be drawn
· It needs to be independent, that is, it cannot be conducted by persons who have a specific answer in mind or who have any philosophical or financial motivations to find a correlation There have been supposed correlations between autism and
· Maternal weight
· Maternal diet
· Ssri use
· Vitamin deficiency
· Autoimmune disorders
· Gut dysfunction
· Lyme disease
It’s a very popular thing in the news cycle… “Researchers may have found a link between autism and (whatever)!” I always read them. Typically they don’t tell you the scope of the study, but they do normally link to it. I read and then think, well thats interesting BUT. but its not enough to make any conclusions generally.
The next time you see such a headline...
Before you agree, before you hit "like," before you hit share, before you bring it up in casual conversation, post it on quora and definitely before you pull out your check book:
Do you own research -read the article sources and thenTHINK
Ask yourself: Does it meet the criteria for good research?? Can I draw any real conclusions from it?
Next up:Autism parents, gay men, and s'mores.