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John Oliver Explains Why So Many Scientific Studies Seem Like Bullshit

“Is science bullshit?” asked John Oliver on Last Week Tonight. “No, but there is a lot of bullshit currently masquerading as science.” And so began his hugely entertaining twenty-minute take-down of crappy scientific studies and the way they’re reported.

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As ever, Oliver manages to inject huge quantities of wit into a totally serious subject. Pointing to conflicting study results, for instance, he explains that “coffee today is like God in the Old Testament: It will either save you or kill you depending on how much you believe in its magic powers.”

His whistle-stop tour of flaky science points out how not all research is created equal, how bias creeps into even the best work, and the ways in which the media—and even Universities—mis-represent scientific news. Also, you’ve probably never heard a more amusing description of p-hacking.

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It’s well worth watching—though those of you outside the US may have to tune in via VPN.

[Last Week Tonight]

Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.

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DISCUSSION

dragon-skunk
Dragon Skunk

There are 2 types of science. Empirical Evidence and Statistical, the latter is the one we have to be weary about.