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Don't believe everything you read, even if it includes numbers

At the risk of branding FairerScience a fan site for Mark Liberman, I'd like to point you all to an article he wrote at the beginning of the month for The Boston Globe. In Sex on the brain, Liberman tackles the issue of urban legends that look like science.

This is one of our big frustrations here at FairerScience. We all know men and women are different in real and observable ways, and that makes it easy for us to believe it when people throw around numbers that seem to support and expand our beliefs. And most people aren't going to take the time to check citations and read the studies behind the story (if, in fact, there is a study, which there often isn't.)

Disappointingly, authors of popular science books and articles frequently use questionable studies or common knowledge to support their findings regarding sex differences. In this article, Liberman checks some of the numbers in the recent bestseller The Female Brain. Many of them, unsurprisingly, are unsubstantiated.

And, amusingly, as the friend who pointed this article out to me noted, the folks at the Globe who chose a graphic for the story obviously went with the headline rather than the content of the story, choosing a graphic that supports the urban legend numbers rather than the actual critique of such that Liberman offers.