Friday, June 10, 2016

Scientific Studies on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

In case you missed it, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver ran a fantastical piece recently on how the American public tends to utterly fail at understanding scientific studies. Our own lack of critical thinking and scientific literacy has made it far more likely for people to misread and misunderstand the results and conclusions of scientific studies, not to mention the fact that there are now way too many people who will believe utter bullshit as long as someone makes it sound "sciency". 

For instance, I recently saw this piece of shit post going around on Facebook claiming that research had found that people with blue eyes were able to hold their alcohol better. Of course, that's not really what any researchers had claimed. The report in question was recently published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics (you can find it here: Sulovari et al. 2015). In that research, a study of a subsample of 1,263 Americans of recent European decent had shown that there was a possible correlation with lighter eye color and the predisposition for alcohol dependence. The authors of that paper themselves pointed out that replication of the study would be necessary before accepting their conclusions, even though a study of only 1,263 people is very unlikely to be too conclusive given all of the possible complexities of such a sample-size limited study. The research in question is exciting and may be an indicator that there is some relationship between the genes that cause eye color and the genes that may make us more likely to become dependent on alcohol, but it in no way implies that having blue eyes makes you a better drinker or a tougher person or anything ridiculously silly like that. 

I highly recommend checking out the following video from Last Week Tonight. You can trust me, I'm wearing a lab coat!

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