ScienceNews Magazine Thinks The Onion is Peer-Reviewed

An article appeared this past week on ScienceNews titled “Schadenfreude starts young.” The gist of the article is that being an asshole starts in childhood (Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived in the misfortune of others).

Interestingly, the first version of the article referenced The Onion as the scholarly source of a study claiming that most children under 10 are sociopaths. That version of the article was quickly scrubbed from the website and replaced with a revised version without any acknowledgement that a revision had been made. Of course, the cached version is still floating around out there in the intertubes. If you’re not familiar with looking up the cached versions of web pages, just copy and paste the URL into a Google search box, and type “cache:” immediately in front of the “http” at the beginning of the URL.


Original (top) and revised (bottom) versions of the second paragraph. The link in the original version (red “argued”) is to this Onion article.

Funny thing is, the article begins by linking to a real study in a real journal, and then it links to the bogus study in The Onion.. The satirical Onion piece begins “A study published Monday in The Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry,” so had the author of the ScienceNews article bothered to try to track down the original paper, she would have seen it was bogus. Doh!

Although the article was revised without citation, an alert commenter picked up on the error and thus far his comment hasn’t been eradicated.

malraux42 writes:

“A psychologist once even argued that most children under 10 would qualify as sociopaths if they were grown-ups. Kids lie, manipulate others and are totally egocentric.”

Er… you do realize that the linked article is from The Onion, a well-known satire site, right?

Edit: If you’re going to correct a mistake, at least *acknowledge* that you made one before you change it. That’s very poor form.

For posterity’s sake, the original version of this article linked to the following satire from The Onion in support of the second paragraph, and included the paraphrasing of the satire as quoted above. Apparently editors aren’t required to check their sources in this day and age.…

This entry was posted in Humor & Rants, Science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s