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Don’t Believe Everything You Read in the Scientific Journals

The old saying used to be “don’t believe everything you read in the papers”. Let me now extend that to “don’t believe everything you read in the scientific journals”.

What research studies say is often taken as gospel truth by media outlets and reported as such. But I have seen several examples of such findings retracted – and the correction doesn’t attract as much attention as the original report.

About four years ago, there was a study which claimed to show that children with a religious upbringing were less generous than others. This didn’t sound right to me – but of course, secular fundamentalists had a field day saying it proved religion was not good for anybody. Now the study has been officially retracted. They got the calculations wrong and in fact more research has found the opposite – that a religious upbringing contributes to greater generosity in people. I bet you won’t see that reported anywhere but here.

I’m Russell Powell for the NSW Council of Churches.

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