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As the title asks: Who constitutes "Pop-Sci" or "Pop-Psych" on this site?

The terms come up here and there on CogSci, and I'd like to know specifically what they mean and to who or whom they are being applied. Clearly neither is a term of endorsement -- how are the terms "Pop-Sci" and "Pop-Psych" being applied this site?

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  • Is there a specific instance you can point out? – Chuck Sherrington Apr 29 '12 at 9:23
  • I read the terms used a few times in chat. I didn't bookmark the specific transcripts; I found myself mulling the two terms over after reading the chat logs. – Catharsis Apr 29 '12 at 9:46
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    They're not directed at a person, but used in reference to ideas that are cited by the popular press, not for their scientific value, but for their value in selling books or newspapers. Usually, there is an implication that the results of studies may not have to be sound research, as long as they can appeal to a wide audience. For example, if I chose 5 already spry senior citizens and told them to recite Shakespeare every day, and in a year's time none of them showed signs of Dementia, people might be interested in that even though the study is probably faulty. – Chuck Sherrington Apr 29 '12 at 10:22
  • I am one of the people that uses this term frequently in chat, and (as Ben mentions) I usually use it in a negative sense. Note however, I only bring it up when chatting to regulars of the site and try to never leave it in actual comments on the main site. I kind of view chat as a safe 3rd space where I can express my thoughts about the site without having to format them carefully. I got the impression that most users did not search the chats. – Artem Kaznatcheev Apr 29 '12 at 15:50
  • @ChuckSherrington - Thanks for a nice, succinct answer; what you say makes sense. :) – Catharsis Apr 30 '12 at 19:26
  • @ArtemKaznatcheev - I read through some of the transcripts because I was considering coming into the CogSci chat myself, and I wanted to get a feel for the tone, topics, and atmosphere of the room. The chat transcripts were very helpful in that regard. – Catharsis Apr 30 '12 at 21:26
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The term's simply being used to denigrate the "Science News" coverage in most popular media; basically anything that's not a scientific journal frequently draws incorrect conclusions, uses misleading headlines or otherwise does not accurately represent how the study was conducted or what conclusions can reasonably be come to from the article.

Certain users don't like questions based on Pop Sci stuff, but as far as the site is concerned, what really matters is that you're asking a question about real research based in peer reviewed science.

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  • Thanks for defining it for me (Chuck Sherrington's comment was very helpful too). Would popular TV or radio personalities, like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Drew, etc., fall into this category? As you and Chuck have explained it, and as I understand it, I don't think I'd care for "pop psych" questions here. Thanks again. – Catharsis Apr 30 '12 at 21:49
  • @Catharsis I'm not sure Dr. Phil counts as any kind of science. This is basically one level of legitimacy above that, more like New York Times science reporting – Ben Brocka May 1 '12 at 0:47
  • Thanks for the further explanation. I'm compelled to state for the record that I neither watch nor follow Dr. Phil or the like :) – Catharsis May 1 '12 at 14:58

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