Study: Don't Use Wi-Fi Near Your Junk

weirdee

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Congratulations, we've discovered that sperm die outside of the human body.

FROM EXPOSURE.
 

vrbtny

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CM156 said:
DVS BSTrD said:
*Looks at laptop in his lap*
Oh shit!
I pulled pretty much the same thing.
Double Ninja'd. Who knew that watching stupid videos on Youtube using Wi-fi could hurt your reproductive skills.... wait a second!
 

jonnosferatu

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dyre said:
I assume the control group was a bunch of sperm next to non-wifi laptops, not just a bunch of sperm sitting on a table?

Also, what's up with the tiny sample sizes? All the studies I read about on the internet seem to be content to study under the standard minimal sample size of 30 people :\ (and imo 30 is really small)
29 subjects is actually sufficiently large for statistical purposes if you're not dividing them into groups. If you take a Stats class (and you should, because Stats is awesome), you'll notice pretty quickly that a 30-subject sample provides you with a pretty scary level of confidence even for huge populations. Late-Phase Clinical Trials for drugs use much higher numbers because of the seriousness of potential errors and the need to run the trial on many different populations, but for the purposes of this kind of experiment 29 is honestly kinda on the large side.

And yes, the control group were kept at the same temperature, albeit without the laptop. This should control for temperature, though they certainly could have been more specific about it.
 

jonnosferatu

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Background here: I happen to be a scientist - I'm not doing paid research right now, but I have a strong background in biotechnology and a LOT of experience reading papers in a number of fields). I feel the need to clarify this before I say anything else because it is VERY obvious to me that very few, if any, of the people who have posted so far in this thread have any kind of scientific background.

Oh, and two quick notes:
1) The full text of the original paper is publicly available, for free. I'm accessing it via the UC Berkeley Library, but you can get to it by clicking the Reuters link at the bottom of the OP, and then the bit.ly link at the bottom of the Reuters article.
2) In the interest of conserving space I've used nested spoiler tags. Open one, ctrl+F your username, and it should take you to it. If it doesn't, you're in the other one.

My general response is relatively short, so I'll just paste it over from the Facebook comments:

jonnosferatu said:
Contrary to what is, apparently, popular belief, people with Ph.D.s are not, as a rule, COMPLETE morons. Chances are, an Escapist writer not thinking to clarify something about the experimental parameters does NOT mean that that something was neglected when the experiment was being designed. If you're concerned that they did not control for temperature, READ THE SOURCE ARTICLE. If that article doesn't help, READ THE PAPER. You do not need to understand technical terms to figure out the process used in an experiment.

The Journals in which these papers are published are almost ALL peer-reviewed. Getting published in one does not guarantee that your work is of a high quality, but it is a pretty good sign that something as elementary as "Did they control for temperature" is answered IN THE PAPER, since it's just as much of a big deal for other researchers as it is for everyone else.
---
wooty
wooty said:
They used to say the same about mobile phone signals and brain damage, heart problems, sperm count......GENERAL PUBLIC! BE SCARED!! DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOMES AND BUY BONDS!
The fact that other, similar research (or in some cases a complete lack of it, and an overactive imagination) has been abused in the past does not mean that this paper does not present valid conclusions. I apologize if that's not what you're saying but I think that this needs to be clarified:

This paper does NOT claim that WiFi signals are necessarily a fertility hazard. What it DOES claim (with fairly strong evidence) is that WiFi signals DO (with a high degree of confidence) contribute to low sperm motility In Vitro, and that this SUGGESTS that they may have a similar effect on sperm cells In Vivo. That's it, and anyone telling you otherwise is either stupid, misinformed, or lying. The researchers directly state (as any good researcher would) that all this means is that further investigation is needed to see whether this has any relevance to sperm in living humans.

VanityGirl
VanityGirl said:
OT: If it was tested outside the body, then I wouldn't think there would be much cause for concern... I'd need more testing before I'd believe that nonsense.
I may be misinterpreting what you mean here, but the fact that it was tested outside of the body does NOT mean there is no cause for concern - just that the cause for concern has more to do with conducting more research than with actually changing behaviors. Research projects don't happen in massive steps - they happen in very small ones, with each step having a paper associated with it. A paper describing an In Vitro experiment in this field is almost certainly NOT going to be the last step, but that does NOT mean that the results of the experiment are "nonsense."

Gevas
Gevas said:
Why are sperm cells special? Significant DNA damage is going to cause apoptosis in any cell. I'm not likely to believe it just by what they're saying, if 9% of my cells died near a wireless system every 4 hours, there wouldn't be much of me left...
Reading the paper reveals very quickly that they actually said "DNA Fragmentation" (read/skim the paper - it's not hard), something that does not trigger apoptosis in sperm but is believed to reduce fertility rates. Again, as stated above, this article was published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning it was approved by a number of respected scientists who are probably not morons. If you think there is an issue with the research, read the paper and do some research on anything that seems odd.

William Fleming
William Fleming said:
I don't know how to respond, why would someone even think about trying this? Also, just as the article mentioned, the decrease in quality might be because of sperm being outside the body, not being under Wi-Fi.
They probably decided to try it because it would:
A) Improve our understanding of sperm cells and genetic material, and
B) Provide insight into what could, conceivably, be a matter of public health

The difference in motility is probably not specifically due to their being outside the body - again, these people are probably not morons, which is why they included a control group that, as with any decent control group, was kept at conditions that were identical EXCEPT for the Wi-Fi signal, and compared the results afterwards. If you see a potential problem with a piece of research, don't just sit there projecting about it - READ THE PAPER.

Vrach
Vrach said:
OT: I'm amazed by how narrow these studies are. Have they placed comparative sperm next to other things? Like a laptop without a wi-fi? Or just left them alone in the same conditions? Last I checked, putting your sperm in a random area is not a way to keep it fresh, you need to take steps to actively preserve it, have those steps been taken and a laptop was just sitting in that environment too?

Considering I imagine it has to be kept refrigerated at a certain temperature and laptops aren't too cool (ba dum tish) with those temperatures, I'm leaning towards agreeing with Greg's skepticism.
I appreciate your skepticism and attempts at critical thinking, but as I've stated several times elsewhere in the post (and as is common knowledge to ANYONE with a significant scientific background), professional researchers are generally not morons. If you think you see a potential problem with their work, READ THE PAPER. I can almost guarantee that whatever problem you - someone who is probably NOT a professional researcher in the relevant field - think is there probably isn't, because professional researchers are generally not morons.

aashell13
aashell13 said:
This experiment seems very badly controlled
It's funny you should say that, given that they had a control group kept under virtually identical conditions with the WiFi as the only significant difference between the two. Again:
1) Read the paper. and
2) professional researchers are generally not morons.

OmniscientOstrich
OmniscientOstrich said:
Eh, even in the highly unlikely event that this experiment actually holds any water
Would you mind clarifying why, exactly, you think it is "highly unlikely" that this experiment holds any water? The researchers do not state that there it demonstrates an effect In Vivo (largely because it was not designed to demonstrate such an effect), and there's strong evidence for the researchers' conclusions about what happens under these conditions In Vitro. Where's the problem?

Screamarie
Screamarie said:
I love how everyone is saying that every man would be sterile if this is true. I mean since they didn't test the sperm while still inside the human body, there's no proof that the damage is long term, you may just have to..."get rid of"...the bad sperm and let new sperm form...though I realize how difficult this would be and you would never know if you had viable sperm or not.

But other than that I think this is kind of a fucked up study. I mean this could have just as easily been caused by the heat the laptop gives off. And if this were true we'd already be seeing the effects as most guys have something connected to wifi near there junk most of the time and yet healthy, happy babies are born everyday.
Correct, there is no proof that the damage is long-term...from a single four-hour period of In Vitro exposure. However (and assuming it generalizes to In Vivo, which would require another experiment), what about chronic exposure?

And of course, AGAIN, professional researchers are generally not morons. Read the paper. The study had a control group, which was kept under identical conditions EXCEPT for the WiFi element. And, AGAIN, this is an In Vitro study - all it can tell us about the In Vivo situation is that we should probably do an experiment there too.

Furthermore, a reduction in sperm motility does not predict an epidemic of sterile men even if the same results ARE observed In Vivo. I have no idea how anyone could make such a fallacious connection, particularly given that two of the other things known to cause low sperm motility are alcohol and tobacco, both of which have been consumed worldwide for hundreds if not thousands of years.

GeoPB
GeoPB said:
Heat is bad for your balls. Fact.
Which is why they kept the control group at the same temperature. Again, professional researchers are generally not morons.

Istvan
Istvan said:
Very imperfect and flawed test, completely useless. When the control group gets just about the same result as the shocking test group, and when they don't mention that they took account of the heat or the shielding that the body provides ro anything else that might influence it, then I seriously doubt the validity of this study.
Again, professional researchers are generally not morons. Read the paper. Statistical analysis of the results indicates that there is a difference in the means of the experimental and control groups, P=0.01 - or, in other words, there is a 99% chance that the two groups have different properties. Furthermore, as you would know if you had read the paper, the DID control for the effects of temperature, and do NOT claim that their research in any way proves that this effect would be observed in humans - it only SUGGESTS that there may be something worth investigating.

Stealthygamer
Stealthygamer said:
maybe the sperm cells were just dying FROM THE HEAT
It's funny you should say that about a study that was:
a) Not testing for cell death, and
b) Conducted with a control group kept at the same temperature.

Following in the vein of your post, I'm going to take a moment to be a bit ruder than I have been for everyone else and ask:
DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT A SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT IS?

OriginalLadders
OriginalLadders said:
Sperm start dying the second they leave your body.
Then it's a good thing that they were testing sperm motility, not sperm survival rates. Most of the rest of my responses have featured read the paper, but in your case I think a more relevant request would be read the article.

Oh, and again, professional researchers are generally not morons. Why do so many people in this thread seem to think that they are?

Baresark
Baresark said:
Interesting. 29 Healthy men does not a study make. You would need to repeat this with hundreds, if not thousands of men to get any meaningful results. And then it would just be numbers indicating a group effect and have no bearing on actual results regarding individual humans. Also, take into effect that sperm is protected inside the body which would change the results completely.

Ahhh, science. I remember when we used to have picnics together and talk about your very specific process... those days seem behind us now that any Tom, Dick, or Harry seem to think they understand you. I miss... US! *openly weeps*

OriginalLadders said:
Sperm start dying the second they leave your body.

This can't be real, any biologist in this field would know that.
Also, this. Sperm may only live for at maximum, a few hours outside a body. Many swimmers start dying within a few minutes.
Firstly, as anyone who has even the SLIGHTEST background in statistics can tell you, "29" is a pretty decent sample size, especially for an In Vitro pilot study. This experiment was not designed to demonstrate any large-scale In Vivo public health effects, as you would know if you had read the paper. In terms of the group effect aspect, you would also know if you had any real background in statistics that most traits in a given population follow some manner of normal distribution (ie a bell curve) and that results from a large sample of that population are therefore likely to generalize to most members of that population as a whole. Further, as noted above, this experiment was NOT designed to test conditions for cell death, and I have no idea why you could think it was if you had read the article. Not even the paper this time - this is literally the subject of the article.

Also, just as a quick point here: Trying to be cute about having "picnics with science" sounds stupid enough normally. The point where it REALLY starts making you look a moron, though, is when you say it immediately after completely misinterpreting a paper in a peer-reviewed journal, and immediately before claiming that 4 professional researchers with Ph.D.s and M.S.s qualify as "any Tom, Dick, or Harry," incidentally also implying that anyone on the peer review board for the journal in which the group's article was published is also an idiot.

Lokithrsourcerer
Lokithrsourcerer said:
bullshit if that was the case we'd all be sterile by now you are constantly bombarded with wireless signals just look at how many wireless networks are visible at all times.

like the so-called evidence that homoeopathy works i think this will fall flat on it's balls when it hits peer review and double blind study

if its not in respected science publication like science magazine or new scientist it is probably bollox
Not going to go into detail on the sterility thing because I've addressed that several times already. I'll just leave it with "The experiment was not designed to say anything about sterility, read the article." If possible also read the paper.

It did hit peer review. It was published in a peer-reviewed journal. You would know this if you had actually read the paper. Also, how do you think this can be put into a double-blind study? There were no human participants in the actual experiment. Did you even read the article?

Also, just FYI: Science and New Scientist don't publish every study from every journal. This is a pilot study and probably not a good use of their time, but if they DO pick it up, the differences between that article and this one is that that one will be written by a professional science writer and will thus be a lot less likely to inspire so many comments from people who clearly don't have any idea of what the study actually says.

Torrasque
Torrasque said:
The only way I would give a damn about this study's findings, is if it said anything about damaging the sperm factories.
Having a few million sperm die is no big deal since I passively create billions over weeks, but if the factories were damaged, then that might cause a bit of concern.
Of course, there is still some question about the validity of this study, like all studies involving "THIS TECHNOLOGY HURTS THIS".
Not going to bother addressing this in detail, given that I've been writing for something like 2 hours now, but basic gist of my response:
1) The experiment was not designed to test the effects of wifi In Vivo
2) If there are In Vivo effects further investigation would need to be done on long-term effects of both short- and long- term exposure
3) I can almost guarantee that any concerns about the validity of the study itself are the result of you not knowing what it was intended to test or how it was supposed to test it. Go read the paper.

SmashLovesTitanQuest
SmashLovesTitanQuest said:
No, seriously, this is a load of bullshit.
Care to elaborate? The evidence for the researchers' conclusions is pretty - there's a 99% chance (literally - this is what is meant by P=0.01 in the paper) that the observed reduction in motility was observed because there actually WAS a reduction and not just randomly. If you think that that means that WiFi poses a significant thread to fertility levels in the general public, yes, that's bullshit - in that that's not what the researchers are saying and anyone telling you it is either stupid, ignorant, or lying.

shadowelancer
Frylock72
shadowelancer said:
Does nobody think that maybe it may have to do with the fact that they apparently had the container UNDERNEATH the laptop?
Frylock72 said:
Laptops get pretty hot, especially after continuous use. Isn't it possible that the heat from them is what killed the extra sperm?
I've calmed down a bit at this point but I'm going to reiterate as I have several times above:
professional researchers are generally not morons. Read the paper. They kept the control group at the same temperature to account for this effect.

dmase
dmase said:
I thought they did this study a thousand times already and came to the conclusion it was the heat the laptops put off that cause the sperm to die off. This really is a useless experiment and proves nothing about wifi. Electro magnetism maybe but it's just heat causing it i'd guess, also it's far more important to know if it affects reproductive organs. You can replace all of the sperm in a couple days the balls... less so.
As noted above, they controlled for the effects of heat. Again, professional researchers are generally not morons. This study is not useless - as you would know if you had read the paper - as it demonstrates that there is strong evidence that WiFi does have an effect on sperm motility In Vitro. It does not CLAIM to prove anything about sperm still in the human body, and if there was evidence of reduced In Vivo motility further investigation would need to be done to determine the long-term effects of occasional and frequent exposure.

weirdguy
weirdguy said:
Congratulations, we've discovered that sperm die outside of the human body.

FROM EXPOSURE.
We already knew that, which is why the study doesn't look at death rates. Did you even read the article?

Furthermore, since, as I have noted elsewhere, professional researchers are generally not morons, they controlled for environmental conditions by splitting each person's sample into two parts and leaving them in roughly identical conditions. The WiFi is the only significant difference between them.

And finally:
Caffeine
Caffiene said:
Really?

Ok, lets do the math here.

29 men. With a control group: 14 or 15 people in each group. 25% of the test group: 3.75. 9% of the test group: 1.35. 14% of the control group: 1.96. 3% of the control group: 0.42.

What we're looking at here is noise. And thats assuming theres even any relationship between collected samples and internal sperm, and assuming that the control was properly done (was it put under a laptop that was producing the same heat but with WiFi turned off?)
This would be one of the only good posts in thread...were it not for the fact that your assumptions (and therefore everything you computed based on them) are entirely incorrect. This is something you would know if you had read the paper.

Firstly, your assumption of how the groups were designated is a very bad one. Each of the samples was split into two parts, one for the control group and one for the experimental group. This is very basic experimental design, and it makes sense that the researchers would use it, because professional researchers are generally not morons.

Secondly, even if you HAD been correct in that case:
A) Even in Greg's article, there is nothing to imply that the reductions were reported by number of subjects, which appears to be another assumption of your analysis. The numbers reported were the mean across all of the samples in each group.
B) No, this is not noise. Statistical analysis of the data - something that the researchers did, as you would know if you had read the paper - revealed that there is a 99% chance that the means of the population represented by the control group are indeed higher than the means of the population represented by the experimental group.
C) The control group was indeed put under similar conditions, probably because professional researchers are generally not morons. I hope you're picking up on that theme in my commentary here, because it seems that you more than anyone else in this thread need to be told about it.

Now for the part that I think deserves a separate response:
WiFi is non-ionising radiation. It is orders of magnitude less powerful than visible light. This is nowhere near a significant enough result to even bother reporting, given that there is no plausible mechanism and significant contradictory research.
1) Significant contradictory research in this case would be a number of experiments performed under similar-to-identical conditions demonstrating that the results of this experiment cannot be replicated. As far as the researchers are aware, this is the first time ANYONE has done an experiment with these conditions and published the results. It's possible that a number of other sperm researchers who decided not to submit their results for peer review will write to the Journal in question to say that they had done this experiment earlier with no such results, but we'll have to wait before that becomes apparent.

2) If you had bothered to read the paper, you probably would have quickly noticed that this experiment was tightly-controlled and produced data that strongly support the hypothesis that, at the very least, there is some part of a laptop computer with an active WiFi connection that causes a decrease in cell motility that cannot be explained by heat alone. If a peer review board thought that was significant enough to warrant publication in their Journal, who are you to say otherwise?

3) Mechanisms are proposed to predict data, not reject it. If the predictions of a mechanism disagree with a rigorous experiment, the reasonable conclusion is that the mechanism is either not applicable (possible here, as the experiment may not have controlled for another unknown attribute of the laptop) or incorrect. Such disagreement is NOT grounds to discard the results of the experiment out of hand, and any decent scientist or research engineer would slap you if you tried to convince them that it is.
 

ChildofGallifrey

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So spending the vast majority of my free time with my laptop in my lap is a bad thing? Well shit. I guess I only wanted one child anyway...
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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OH GOOD LORD USING MY LAPTOP AS THE NAME SUGGESTS IS MAKING ME IMPOTENT

Someone quick! Invent something other than Wi-fi that allows me to use internets without wires.
 

dyre

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jonnosferatu said:
dyre said:
I assume the control group was a bunch of sperm next to non-wifi laptops, not just a bunch of sperm sitting on a table?

Also, what's up with the tiny sample sizes? All the studies I read about on the internet seem to be content to study under the standard minimal sample size of 30 people :\ (and imo 30 is really small)
29 subjects is actually sufficiently large for statistical purposes if you're not dividing them into groups. If you take a Stats class (and you should, because Stats is awesome), you'll notice pretty quickly that a 30-subject sample provides you with a pretty scary level of confidence even for huge populations. Late-Phase Clinical Trials for drugs use much higher numbers because of the seriousness of potential errors and the need to run the trial on many different populations, but for the purposes of this kind of experiment 29 is honestly kinda on the large side.

And yes, the control group were kept at the same temperature, albeit without the laptop. This should control for temperature, though they certainly could have been more specific about it.
hey, I DID take a stat class! But all I did was memorize the methods the prof taught and when to use them >_>

thanks for the info though

edit: lol, woah, I noticed that after your response to my post, you responded to everyone else in the thread. You seem to be a bit miffed at people not bothering to read the paper >:O. But to be fair, the paper wasn't even linked, and well, to laymen like myself, scientific papers are boring as fuck to read. I usually don't get past the abstract. And when I get to the method section...ugh. We're usually supposed to just read the summary from the news writer :\
 

jonnosferatu

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dyre said:
jonnosferatu said:
dyre said:
I assume the control group was a bunch of sperm next to non-wifi laptops, not just a bunch of sperm sitting on a table?

Also, what's up with the tiny sample sizes? All the studies I read about on the internet seem to be content to study under the standard minimal sample size of 30 people :\ (and imo 30 is really small)
29 subjects is actually sufficiently large for statistical purposes if you're not dividing them into groups. If you take a Stats class (and you should, because Stats is awesome), you'll notice pretty quickly that a 30-subject sample provides you with a pretty scary level of confidence even for huge populations. Late-Phase Clinical Trials for drugs use much higher numbers because of the seriousness of potential errors and the need to run the trial on many different populations, but for the purposes of this kind of experiment 29 is honestly kinda on the large side.

And yes, the control group were kept at the same temperature, albeit without the laptop. This should control for temperature, though they certainly could have been more specific about it.
hey, I DID take a stat class! But all I did was memorize the methods the prof taught and when to use them >_>

thanks for the info though

edit: lol, woah, I noticed that after your response to my post, you responded to everyone else in the thread. You seem to be a bit miffed at people not bothering to read the paper >:O. But to be fair, the paper wasn't even linked, and well, to laymen like myself, scientific papers are boring as fuck to read. I usually don't get past the abstract. And when I get to the method section...ugh. We're usually supposed to just read the summary from the news writer :\
I actually wrote the other post first and then decided that my response to you didn't belong in with the rest of them.

I recognize that the paper isn't directly linked, but a vital part of critical thinking (and reading ANY news article) is to pay attention to the source of whatever's being said. Greg didn't do a horrible job, but AFAIK he isn't a science writer by any stretch of the imagination (and probably just summarized the Reuters article), and the guy who wrote the Reuters article either is either not a science writer, or a pretty bad one. Following the source is actually pretty fast for most articles like this one, because sites like Reuters generally link directly to the paper.

I also probably should have mentioned (as I will in the thread I'm writing on this, pretty much in response to this one) that nobody actually READS the methods section unless they're trying to design a follow-up experiment. Usually the sequence goes:

Abstract -> Conclusions -> Results (look for tables and graphs to verify Conclusions)
After that we might skim the Methods, but only if we're particularly interested in how the research was done or want to make an argument about its validity.

THAT SAID, I don't mind people not reading the original paper or even a Reuters piece on it. What I DO mind is people reading about research and then making very stupid statements about it, which is what happened here. Reading this thread was actually a very good thing for me, because it reminded me of something I'd forgotten: The main reason that so many discoveries are overlooked or rejected in the popular consciousness is that people who don't know what the fuck they're talking about won't let that stop them from chiming in. This is a problem.

(I'd write something about Global Warming here but I'm pretty sure you get the gist of what I'd say just by my mentioning it)
 

dyre

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jonnosferatu said:
I actually wrote the other post first and then decided that my response to you didn't belong in with the rest of them.

I recognize that the paper isn't directly linked, but a vital part of critical thinking (and reading ANY news article) is to pay attention the source. Greg didn't do a horrible job, but AFAIK he isn't a science writer by any stretch of the imagination, and the guy who wrote the Reuters article isn't a very good one. Following the source is actually pretty fast for most articles like this one, because sites like Reuters generally link directly to the paper.

I also probably should have mentioned (as I will in the thread I'm writing on this, pretty much in response to this one) that nobody actually READS the methods section unless they're trying to design a follow-up experiment. Usually the sequence goes:

Abstract -> Conclusions -> Results (look for tables and graphs to verify Conclusions)
After that we might skim the Methods, but only if we're particularly interested in how the research was done or want to make an argument about its validity.

THAT SAID, I don't mind people not reading the original paper or even a Reuters piece on it. What I DO mind is people reading about research and then making very stupid statements about it, which is what happened here. Reading this thread was actually a very good thing for me, because it reminded me of something I'd forgotten: The main reason that so many discoveries are overlooked or rejected in the popular consciousness is that people who don't know what the fuck they're talking about won't let that stop them from chiming in. This is a problem.

(I'd write something about Global Warming here but I'm pretty sure you get the gist of what I'd say just by my mentioning it)
Hmm, ok, fair enough. About being upset about people dismissing research without actually reading the research, that is.

Don't think it's just you science types that get dismissed by the popular consciousness though! People are just as eager to ignore history. For example, Iran's situation today, which is the culmination of about sixty years of US-Iran relations, mostly involving the US bullying Iran by supporting "anti-communist" dictators and squashing nationalist, democratic leadership, gets simplified into "those Iranians are a bunch of extremists who just hate our way of life." I'm sure the same applies to any subject.

Oh, and I appreciate the knowledge that I can just read the abstract, the conclusion, and the results (though, results before conclusion? not what I would've guessed)
 

jonnosferatu

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Abstract and Conclusions are the easy bits with lots of information. The Results are usually at least mildly interesting, but that's mostly because they give you something you can use to frame the Conclusions. Research in peer-reviewed journals will almost always be pretty honest.*

*I know someone's going to come in and get on my case for this, so here's the spiel:
The Lancet article on MMR Vaccines and Autism is an example of a pretty rare occurrence - generally speaking, when people are publishing bad science, they do it by only publishing the results of a small number of experiments. This is usually only viable in industry, where you don't have to justify your expenses to an outside grant agency, and usually have ~2 decades before anyone else can do their own experiments to verify the results (patents). Academic research is generally less susceptible to this.