Monday, February 20, 2006

Scientific in quotes.

In a Washington Post story titled, "The ugly face of crime," uglier people were -found- more likely to grow up criminals than attractive folk. A federally sponsored study (groan) surveyed about 15 000 high school students. The way they seemed to operationalize 'ugliness' was an ad hoc likert scale that the interviewer was to use in rating the individual being surveyed.

It could indeed be a discrepancy in mass media reporting of an academic study, but if no mistake has been made... this study has a few fundamentally shaky foundations. First, it relied on the aesthetic sense of the interviewers, which definitely vary. Second, it makes scientific claims based on these subjectivities (but does not seem to acknowledge this subjectivity and jumps right to the scientific findings). I could go on, but you get the idea of why this could possibly be a really really flawed (BUT FUNDED) study....
See the story here.

While it does seem to be an -intriguing- study, one must ask WHY the researchers are asking this particular question? What does it hope to contribute to our understanding of the world, if it is seeking to do so... and ideally research should contribute to that understanding. What are they trying to say? What are the future implications for the ugly and pretty, and their quantifications?

This study deserves the raising of more eyebrows than the two I have (though that would make me less likely to commit a crime I suppose than those with ONE).


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