Skeptikai Reaches Another Milestone! – Admitting Being Wrong

I made a mistake. I recently published a post critiquing a research article on the notion of “gaydar,” investigating whether or not it may have been “bogus science.” My conclusion was essentially that it was poorly conducted. I still maintain that it could have been conducted better, but I no longer believe that it was bad science. This shift in my opinion came in the form of a tweet, when the lead author kindly informed me that I made a factual error in my post. So I apologize to the researchers, Joshua Tabak and Vivian Zayas, for reporting these errors. Let this set the record straight.

When I wrote in my “About” page about a year and a half ago, saying that I knew I wouldn’t be right about everything I wrote, and that I encourage people to call me out on anything that is erroneous, I wasn’t just saying it. And I was wondering at that time what it would be like to have to admit that I made a mistake. It turns out not to be as bad or as scary as it sounds; perhaps because of how Tabak handled it.

Tabak informed me of one mistake, but I soon realized that I actually made two. This doesn’t invalidate my entire article – other criticisms still stand – but the study should indeed be taken seriously, which contrasts to how I felt before. The title was “New Gaydar Study: Bogus Science?” and now the answer is a clear “no.” I don’t want to overstate the results – they’re not amazing – but now I believe that they should be taken seriously. I’m sure this research will be expanded on in the future.

First, I foolishly believed a reader for the Edmonton Journal who made a complaint that said the researchers told participants the ratio of gay-to-straight faces (see the article for more information). That was wrong, and that webpage is now gone. Secondly, I reported that only 24 participants were involved in the study. There were actually 24 in experiment 1, and an additional 129 in experiment 2, which is a totally different story. Having around 150 participants is typical of research of this nature, and this makes the results much more meaningful than if they reflected only 24.

With this admission, I am humbled. I’m glad that Tabak contacted me and settled this quickly, and I edited my previous article to reflect these changes. It’s good that I have made a mistake – it keeps me grounded. So I apologize to the authors, but I also owe Tabak gratitude.

I’m not sure what my next blogging milestone will be. Maybe I’ll become a true Jedi blogger when someone sues me for defamation or something.

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2 Responses to Skeptikai Reaches Another Milestone! – Admitting Being Wrong

  1. Sophelia says:

    The world in general would be a much better place if more people were able to revise their opinions when they find new information and be as gracious as you in admitting when they make mistakes. This was a very nice post to read 😀

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