Is it Science or Is it Bullshit?

Someone at Modeled Behavior — they like to coyly keep us guessing who — tweeted this today: 

Yeah, probably. But that reminds me. Apropos of something I posted a few days ago but don’t remember, as well as a recent blog conversation with Matt Yglesias about the value of empirical research, plus Mark Kleiman reminding me a few days ago of the old saw that “you can’t take the con out of econometrics” — anyway, apropos of all that, I think the world desperately needs someone to write a regular feature called “Is it Science or Is it Bullshit?” This would most likely focus on headline-grabbing research in the areas of medicine, economics, sociology, and general culture, but there’s no reason not to find some bullshit in the harder sciences too. Just not as much, probably.

In any case, think of it as after-the-fact peer review with an attitude. The winning candidate for this position will have a pretty good mathematical background, a sneering contempt for sloppiness, an obsessive attention to detail, a willingness to read mounds of tedious crap, and probably a fairly severe case of insomnia. You’d also need to be really fast, since debunking bullshit a month after every news outlet in the country has hyped it does no one any good. It needs to be debunked the day it hits the streets. (Or praised, of course. We’re looking for rigor here, folks.)

Oh, and the job doesn’t pay anything. Anyone interested?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.