Pro-Female Bias in Evaluation of Scientific Findings

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Emil Kirkegaard:

"In science too, women are favored. Research findings that favor women are rated more favorably despite identical research designs. That is to say, there is a pro-female bias in evaluation of research. Bayesionally, this reflects people’s existing beliefs that women are actually better, thus leading to higher standards for pro-male findings (same idea as Sagan’s dictum extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). Bo Winegard and Cory Clark has a summary of such findings in their recent article The Myth of Pervasive Misogyny.

This pro-female bias in evaluation of scientific findings has been replicated by the same authors in a follow-up study, which found essentially the same results (Steve Stewart-Williams et al 2022). These findings replicate a prior 2018 study by Bo Winegard and colleagues. In fact, that study has been submitted to 5-10 journals in the last 5 years and is still not published due to hostile reviews. This is a testament to the findings in the paper: even meta-research showing that women are favored in science is difficult to publish in mainstream scientific journals! Here’s their study summary:

Recent scholarship has challenged the long-held assumption in the social sciences that Conservatives are more biased than Liberals, yet little work deliberately explores domains of liberal bias. Here, we demonstrate that Liberals are particularly prone to bias about victims’ groups (e.g. Blacks, women) and identify a set of beliefs that consistently predict this bias, termed Equalitarianism. Equalitarianism, we believe, stems from an aversion to inequality and a desire to protect relatively low status groups, and includes three interrelated beliefs: (1) demographic groups do not differ biologically; (2) prejudice is ubiquitous and explains existing group disparities; (3) society can, and should, make all groups equal in society. This leads to bias against information that portrays a perceived privileged group more favorably than a perceived victims’ group. Eight studies (n=3,274) support this theory. Liberalism was associated with perceiving certain groups as victims (Studies 1a-1b). In Studies 2-7 and meta-analyses, Liberals evaluated the same study as less credible when the results concluded that a privileged group (men and Whites) had a more desirable quality relative to a victims’ group (women and Blacks) than vice versa. Ruling out alternative explanations of Bayesian (or other normative) reasoning, significant order effects in within-subjects designs in Studies 6 and 7 suggest that Liberals believe they should not evaluate identical information differently depending on which group is portrayed more favorably, yet do so. In all studies, higher equalitarianism mediated the relationship between more liberal ideology and lower credibility ratings when privileged groups were said to score higher on a socially valuable trait. Although not predicted a priori, meta- analyses also revealed Moderates to be the most balanced in their judgments. These findings indicate nothing about whether this bias is morally justifiable, only that it exists.

As a matter of fact, much research over the years have found that women are generally viewed more positively in various ways."


More information

Source material cited: