3 Responses

  1. avatar
    Otto Kolbl at |

    I totally agree with your reservations about the article “Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy”. From my own private and professional experience in China, I can only confirm your analysis. Unfortunately, I am a little more pessimistic in my conclusion. You write that “the hyping of science in this way undercuts trust”. My opinion would be that with most readers, such articles which are based on an extremely biased use of available data are extremely popular, because they arrive at clear-cut conclusions to which the reader can relate from his own immediate experience.

    In Western countries, only children have got the reputation of being more egocentric and less social than children with siblings. In China, for the reasons you describe very will above, things are far from being that simple (and they are probably not that simple in Western countries either). However, if a research project pretends that it can confirm such simplistic preconceptions, most readers will trust it much more than if it reaches a more nuanced conclusion or even challenges the views of the reader.

    In addition, each research project which “shows” that the Chinese development model is heading for disaster is always highly welcome. That’s the reason why for so many decades now, the experts whcih predict the imminent breakdown of China get massive media attention, whereas those with a more differentiated analysis tend to get sidelined.

    In the short term at least, such articles will therefore allow many readers to get a more personal and direct relationship to academic research. Of course, in the long term, or with readers who have got the opportunity to verify the situation on the ground, things are different. Such hypes might very well be responsible for the decline in trust in the mainstream media which has become alarming in recent years. It is therefore important to put in place mechanisms to limit such cases of hyped or biased research.

    Some articles on my blog show that in the field of the Chinese socio-economic development, extremely biased research is even more frequent than with regards to social phenomena:

  2. avatar
    Selwyn Super at |

    In a previous comment on the subject I proved euphemistic when saying that unless we adhere to ethos, pathos and logos we present pseudoscience as science and this is a disservice to society. I should have been more accurate to point out that dishonest scientists and institutions that champion them (colleges, journals, and “science ” writers ) compound the problem and degrade the quality of science. It is not the figures that lie, but the liars that figure.
    Honest research that points out insignificant findings does not lead to academic promotions or to publications in prestigious journals.


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