51. Handsome Men, Lousy Semen: 3. Speed and Accuracy

I am off on a tangent.  I have been talking about Soler et al’s 2014 article in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.  Originally I became interested in this article due to the disparity between the content of the press release and the content of the study.  Essentially it boils down to how we interpret the words: handsome, attractive, and masculine.  The press release focused on the idea that handsome men may have poorer quality of semen.  Yet the study did not look at handsomeness per se but looked at measures of attractiveness and masculinity.  Whereas attractive men had better quality of semen, those deemed more masculine had poorer semen quality.  The press release was imprecise.

Not really a big matter and easily corrected if one reads the original article.  However, the focus of popular media is on speed of delivery and not always accuracy.  Small errors can quickly compound and take on a semblance of accuracy through sheer repetitiveness.

Some sources did not read the article and merely parroted the press release [www.sciencenewsline.com].  Some clearly did read the article and corrected the press release discrepancy [www.nydailynews.com].  Some kept the press release title and tried to review the article — unfortunately the number of errors in the review suggests that the journalist did not totally understand the article’s content [www.huffingtonpost.com].

As I said before [20][50], never implicitly trust a secondary source.

27. Rampages Faceplate

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