Science (And Politics?)


Up. Identified. Lase. Fire. On the way.
PREMO Member
Fair warning: probably TL;DR

Came upon an interesting post from Arnold Kling:

Which is a quick synopsis of this (a really, really good post):

Caused to me snip what Kling did and a few other things:
I believe a related, but perhaps less-recognized, illness plagues psychology and related disciplines (including the health sciences, family studies, sociology, and education). That illness is the conflation of correlation with causation, and the latest research suggests that scientists, and not lay people and the media, are the underlying culprits.
Perhaps the distinction between correlation and causation makes perfect sense to you. Lucky you, because you are not in the majority. The tendency to conflate correlation and causation is well-known and discussed widely in books on logical thinking (such as Keith Stanovich’s What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought) and biases in thinking (such as Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things).
Scholars have repeatedly blamed the media for inappropriate use of causal language. In 2016, when Brian Resnick of Vox asked famous psychologists and social scientists what journalists get wrong when writing about research, conflating correlation and causation topped the list. Indeed, unwarranted causal inferences abound in the media. A quick search on nearly any news site will reveal headlines like “How Student Alcohol Consumption Affects GPA” and “Sincere Smiling Promotes Longevity” and “For Teens, Online Bullying Worsens Sleep and Depression,” all of which are causal claims made on the basis of non-causal (correlational) research with measured variables
Kling snipped this part:
We reviewed a random sample of poster abstracts that had been accepted for presentation at an annual convention of the premier professional organization in psychology, the Association for Psychological Science. We were disappointed to find that over half of the abstracts that included cause and effect language did so without warrant (i.e., the research was correlational). Of course, poster presentations are held to a less rigorous standard than are formal talks or published journal articles, so in a follow-up study, we reviewed 660 articles from 11 different well-known journals in the discipline. Our findings replicated: over half of the articles with cause and effect language described studies that were actually correlational; in other words, the causal language was not warranted.
From the end:
Regardless, it is up to psychological scientists to hold one another—and themselves—to a higher standard of (1) recognizing a causal statement when they see it, and (2) identifying whether or not the three criteria have been met for making that causal statement. In the scientific pursuit of truth, psychology must do better.
This should be concerning; that science (in this case, psychology) often isn't very science-y. So, problem #1.

What also should be concerning is research for political purposes. Take this study, for example:

It's a study whose sole purpose is to push for better mental health care and awareness for "gender minority" (GM; i.e., transgender, etc.) college students. The study found empirical data that GM students suffer from mental health challenges (depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, etc.) at a much higher rate than non-GM students. I, for one, am not surprised. Makes sense. And frankly, shouldn't require massive research to "know." But support in the sense of policies, grants, etc. require fact-based, empirical data. Again, no problem. Absolutely makes sense.*

But that is the problem (Problem #2). The entire purpose of the study was to gain political/financial support for the students' current GM state and not in the interests of the students' overall health. In other words, there was zero interest in ascertaining why GM students had these mental health challenges; as in, do these students have gender issues because other mental health problems drive gender identity issues or the fact that they have gender identity issues (because they don't fit into "cis-society" easily) the reason for the depression, anxiety. etc.? Wouldn't that be important? If we found that GM students were GM as a result of the depression, anxiety, etc., wouldn't it be smarter to treat that instead of just simply affirming the students' GM status?

We know the study had only one goal because of several statements buried in the "limitations" section:
Second, the cross-sectional data cannot account for changes in mental health over time, and this study cannot infer causes of GM disparities.
Third, campuses elected to participate in the HMS; though the institutional sample is large and diverse, it is not random. Survey weights do not account for probability of school selection.
Fifth, the response rate was 24%; this is typical for online surveys, but it clearly raises the potential of nonresponse bias. The researchers applied nonresponse weights along known characteristics of the full population, but there may be differences between responders and nonresponders on unobserved characteristics. One question is whether students with mental health concerns may be more or less likely to respond. To address this, the HMS team previously conducted a follow-up survey sent to roughly 500 randomly selected initial nonresponders; 55% responded and results showed, relative to the main sample, lower rates of depression, suggesting potential overestimations of the prevalence of mental health problems.
"Underline" emphasis mine.

So, a study to serve a political end rather than a study to make sense of a "problem." Rather like the slight of hand we see in many climate change studies.

Finally, to see how corrosive this all is to both science and politics, we have the the politicization of research (Problem #3):

Here we have a pro-"diversity" organization cherry-picking the study to write an article in support of its goals. Egregiously, the writer doesn't use an actual quote from the study's "boss," the author chooses to paraphrase her. This is, I think, misleading. It could very well be true, but why not let the "boss" speak for herself?:
The study was published Friday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Its lead author, Sarah Ketchen Lipson, an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University, said while mental health professionals and LGBTQ advocates are aware that gender-minority students are much more likely to grapple with mental health issues, the general public is not.

Lipson said that she hopes the scale of the study causes college administrators to pay attention to these vast mental health disparities.
And to make matters worse the article's writer quotes only one "expert" on this issue. Guess which side of the issue the "expert" is on....
College officials need to require training for professors and staff members around gender minorities, similar to how many institutions teach their faculty members about sexual harassment, said Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and coordinator of the LGBTQ advocacy group Campus Pride's Trans Policy Clearinghouse.

Beemyn called for more funding for mental health initiatives that would help trans students.
Help how? I'm guessing you can figure that one out, as well.

So what's the point of this long (and certainly, boring) post? Bottom line, do the research to see if what you're being fed passes the "smell test." Demand good research. If we don't, we don't get science, we get Lysenkoism. And that's not a good thing.

*I didn't pick this study because I have a bone to pick about the focus of the study. I don't. For the record, I come down on the side that says "gender identity" issues are real; not faked. But.... I also think (and there is good science to support this) that a sizable percentage of mental health issues related to gender identity are a result of the willfully making the causation mistake mentioned at the start. By this I mean that mental health issues related to gender identity are often the "result of" rather than the "cause of" other mental health issues. Or the "confound" issue also mentioned (e.g., the result of adolescent confusion, or any number of any number of things/confounds). Shouldn't we then be working all sides of the issue rather than the one that has support for ideological reasons? Shouldn't "good science" be the search for truth even if it results in an "inconvenient truth" for some?

(One reason why, though I don't always agree with him on specifics and on some of the big things, I make Scott Adams' blog daily required reading/listening.)

--- End of line (MCP)
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Well-Known Member
Just to point out the stunningly obvious:

Your first article wasn't written by Arnold Kling. It was written by April L. Bleske-Rechek.

Your Problem #1 is most definitely a problem....that is why one should look at/put more faith in "peer reviewed" research and question comments made that have no factual evidence to back them up (Hint: Trump constantly makes comments with zero evidence to back them up...but you all believe him anyway)

Your evidence for Problem #2 is complete bullshit. First, your statement, "But that is the problem (Problem #2). The entire purpose of the study was to gain political/financial support for the students' current GM state and not in the interests of the students' overall health " is inherently false. Your assumption that it "makes sense" that GM students have mental health issues is not, in any way, scientific. Before a problem can be addressed, the problem must first be identified. If you bothered to read the "Introduction" section of the study (it was the first line), you would have understood this.

Your comments on the limitations are YOU pushing a political conclusion that is not supported by the evidence. The entire reason those limitations are noted is to allow readers to understand that the study is not an end all be all definitive work (in other words correlation does not equate to causation)and to allow other researchers who are conducting research on the same topic to attempt to address the limitations of this study. Additionally you completely fail to address the conclusion which does not make any hard/fast conclusions. It only states that there is "compelling evidence".

Your Problem #3 is quite interesting in that most of the "research" put forth on this forum is politically based bullshit. Most of the articles that are referenced are completely biased...they are just biased in a way that supports the bias of the Trump cultists. You just did the exact same thing by trying to twist the AJPM article into something it wasn't and to say that it said things it doesn't say. It takes a lot to get a research article into a publication like takes nothing but supporting a predetermined conclusion for research to be referenced on Brietbart, Townhall or Redstate.


Just being a fly in the ointment...
PREMO Member
Wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if Tranny replied to this post.
Betcha $1 he couldn't get through three sentences before he went all... "TRUMP!!! TRUMP!!! :cds: TRUMP!!! TRUMP!!! TRUMP!!! Orangemanbad!!! :jameo: TRUMP!!! TRUMP!!!"


Well-Known Member
(Hint: Trump
I was going to respond to this with IT'S NOT ABOUT TRUMP!!!!

But, then I realized, Trump is all you have. You clearly have nothing else in your life. @Yooper was trying to provide an interesting article on an interesting topic, and all you can see is Trump. Based on how you act here, I have to assume you go to the grocery store, and when they're out of your favorite double-stuffed Oreos you scream "FUKKING TRUMP!!!" at the poor grocery store clerk. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you think it's Trump's fault. If it rains when they plan your field trip day, you think it's Trump's fault.

You have 5 1/2 years left to figure out a life where Trump is not the main cause of your misery in your life (in your opinion). Five and a half years to actually gain a life. That's the only time you have left.

It's pretty clear that your psychosis is so deep, 5 1/2 years of therapy may not be enough, but if you don't start, you'll never gain peace.

I wish you that peace, whenever it finally comes, and however it finally comes.


Up. Identified. Lase. Fire. On the way.
PREMO Member
Your Problem #1 is most definitely a problem....
Glad to read your reply. Thank you.

One of the reasons I decided to post this article and write it up the way I did was because I had you in mind; I wanted to see if you would not react in the manner This_person succinctly described (the post immediately above). But you did. So in that respect, a successful "experiment" as you confirmed the depth of the pathology one must deal with when dealing with you. Gotta love that null hypothesis thing!

Equally important in posting is that perhaps, for forum members who are not you, things like this are important to know about. Studies like this ARE a problem. And having it be published in a what should otherwise be a reputable journal IS another part of the problem. These are issues worth pointing out, discussing, and debating (why I linked the Bleske-Rechek article with this study; having her comments about professional responsibility to ensure better outcomes in mind). You seem to have no issues with any of it; I do. Doesn't that suggest the study (and its being published) is problematic to at least some degree? Or have you so bought into the superiority of technocracy (and its attendant "certainties") that these things are beyond reproach and thus cannot be questioned/criticized? (Never mind, shouldn't have asked; I already know the answer.)

Was amazed to see you make this a "reputable journals/blog sites" thing; I made no reference to blog sites other than to show how a flawed study gets (perhaps) wrongly published in a "reputable" journal and it is then run with by an entity that has a vested interest in the (seemingly predetermined) outcome for political purposes. My issue is with the process that (seemingly) pushes desired, political outcomes as science-based. I'm against that silliness regardless of who benefits.

Equally amazed (though not surprised) that you turned this into a Trump thing. Wow.

In any event, thank you for the criticisms. Duly noted.

Wishing you a good day. And hoping you can actually have one; one that doesn't involve pulling wings off flies (or the like), that is.

--- End of line (MCP)
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