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posted by martyb on Wednesday May 11 2016, @04:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-the-facts,-ma'am dept.

The Washington Post reports on a video from the television series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver regarding flaws in science and in reporting about science.

Topics touched upon by Mr. Oliver include p-hacking, exploratory studies vs. confirmational studies, press releases, the "telephone" effect, animal testing, oversimplification, industry funding, sample sizes, and TED talks.

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2016, @07:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2016, @07:00PM (#344812)

    I like him, I enjoy his show, and I agree that he often works harder and does more research than other "journalists". At the same time, about half of his shows try to defend a political stance as if it were hard fact, and he uses a lot of manipulative tactics. In particular, his piece about refugees was hard to watch. His position seems to be that there are no downsides to accepting every single Syrian refugee into the US that makes it through the current regime of background checks, and that anyone who disagrees is motivated by racism. To back his position up, if I recall, he used a purely anecdotal example of a handicapped girl who was having a hard time getting into the US.

    That's like citing one crisp crouton to prove that everything in the buffet is safe to eat. Is most of it delicious and safe to eat? Probably. Does the crispiness of one crouton have any bearing on the safety of shrimp heap? No, not particularly. But it sure -feels- damning, the way he sets it up.

    When he does bother to address possible objections to his point of view, he often cherry picks the worst-possible representative (often a literal Representative) of the position, then dismisses the objection with an epithet, or an out of context and unrelated clip of them saying something terrible or embarrassing.

    Samantha Bee's Full Frontal is a similarly great show, similarly hampered by ad hominem attacks and strawman arguments. I agree a lot with both of them on most things, but they sacrifice a lot on the altar of comedy.

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