While it would be fish in a barrel to drag this paper as a contribution to the pseudoscience of homeopathy, we'll largely pass on that here. More interestingly, this single paper illustrates quite a few of the points that we make in our forthcoming book.
The first of them pertains to the role of peer review as guarantor of scientific accuracy.
We've written several times about what we describe as Phrenology 2.0 — the attempt to rehabilitate long-discredited pseudoscientific ideas linking physiognomy to moral character — using the trappings of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
For example,, we've put together case studies on a paper about criminal detection from facial photographs...
1. I recently tweeted about a particularly poor piece of science reporting in the science/tech news site @BigThink. In that article, they describe a new study as showing that spending two hours a week in nature is essential for happiness. bigthink.com/surprising-sci…
2. In our course, we encourage our students to question as strongly those claims that support their beliefs as those that challenge them.
I believe myself that time in nature improves well-being, so in the spirit of following my own advice, let’s look closely at this story.
3. The @BigThink story oversells the study. First of all, this is an observational study that establishes association, not causation. It could be that time in nature causes a sense of well-being. Or it could be that a sense of well-being causes people to spend time in nature.
Increasingly, this rubbish is being replaced by *new-school bullshit*. New school BS uses the language of math and stats to create an impression of rigor and accuracy. Dubious claims are given a veneer of legitimacy by glossing them with equations, numbers, and data graphics. 3/n