The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 19 No. 8 • December 2017


THE STUDY THAT DIDN’T BARK

(with apologies to Arthur Conan Doyle)

A very recent study shows that sometimes what appears to have been shown in a scientific paper may, buried deeply within the text, reveal that it wasn’t shown at all. This is becoming more common these days and makes it imperative that one reads carefully before concluding that the abstract says it all. It also shows that a peer-reviewed paper may not necessarily have been read very carefully.

Take the case of the Study That Didn’t Bark.

Here we have a study of the effect of testosterone in men’s preferences for female facial femininity and whether that preference declines with age. Nothing odd about that subject matter.

In the abstract, the authors propose that changes in preferences for female facial femininity “could reflect age-related declines in testosterone levels.” Very reasonable.

In the conclusion of this paper, the authors claim that “our results suggest that men’s preferences for facial femininity are age dependent and coincide with age-related differences in testosterone.” OK.

Not OK. In the DISCUSSION of the results of the study, the authors admit that “[a]n important limitation of our study was the lack of direct measures of testosterone from our participants.” (!!) This is the Dog That Didn’t Bark. How can they claim that men’s preferences for facial femininity “coincide with age-related differences in testosterone” when they didn’t MEASURE the testosterone???

It is sad that a peer-reviewed publication such as the Gerontological Society’s Journal of Social Sciences (Marcinkowska 2017) can have missed such vital data. One possibility is that, since peer reviewers are not paid to review papers, they may be less careful than they might otherwise be, particularly since they have work they ARE paid for that may take up most of their time.

Reference

  • Marcinkowska et al. Men’s preferences for female facial femininity decline with age. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 72(1):180-6 (2017).

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