It turns out that wasn’t really science talking at all. Sure, too much of anything is bad for our health, but humans are remarkably adaptable, science notwithstanding. So-called scientific analysis still has a human element and humans are cherry pickers.
Amy Orben explains:
Behavioural scientists have long assumed data analysis to be automatically objective: that they could open a dataset, ‘have a look at the data’ and report the results they find.
Except results are not that easy to determine from a single dataset; or even many datasets. I submit that there isn’t much science in behavioral studies anyway, but that’s a different argument. Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other social and technological giants hire scientists to build their products, and social scientists– psychologists and others of their ilk– to design products and services in such a way as to keep customers hooked.
Yet, science, at least what we think science is or should be, has a couple of not well publicized issues.
For example, science tells us that water, on earth, boils at 212 degrees at sea level. Fair enough. The scientific method that gets to those so-called scientific facts has a number of basic steps.
- Make an observation
- Conduct research
- Form a hypothesis
- Test hypothesis
- Record results
- Draw a conclusion
- Replicate the process
There are times when we humans manage skip a few of those steps and just go straight to a conclusion. It’s still considered science even if the conclusion is wrong. A good example is the science behind the theory of evolution. Why is it a theory and not a scientific fact.
The theories cannot be tested or replicated.
For a social or behavioral scientist to determine that too much screen time is bad for your health a few definitions are in order, including was is good health without screen time, and then to collect data from those who have screen time, in whatever amount, and then to test or compare their health with the original data.
With the measurement of well-being being just one of many decisions a researcher has to make during the analysis process, there are often thousands, if not millions, of analyses that could have been run to answer just one research question.
The problem with screen time research is the same as it is with the theory of evolution and many other so-called scientific endeavors. Humans tend to cherry pick the data which results in a conclusion that matches a preconceived notion at worst, or simplicity at best.
For example, we read and hear the Apple is doomed or iPhone is doomed or the Mac is dying memes often, but seldom do such conclusions use all the steps in the scientific process. Where are the facts? Data? Numbers? Trends?
Instead, critics merely jump to a conclusion because that takes less time and garners more headlines that real research which combines all steps in the process and lets the data help with the conclusion.
Simply put, fake news is much easier to manufacture than real news.