John Oliver, the comedian and host of the HBO show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, has perfected the art of the searing, outrage-induced explanatory monologue. The topic for Sunday’s show? Scientific studies.
It’s no secret that trumpeted scientific findings often range from misleading to outright false. Remember the University of Maryland study that found that chocolate milk could help prevent concussions in athletes — research that was partly financed by a company that makes chocolate milk?
Much of Mr. Oliver’s segment is devoted to how legitimate science can be distorted when it leaves scientists’ hands. Exaggerated findings are often the result of “failures by multiple parties,” The Chronicle’s Paul Basken wrote in 2014, “including the journalists who write the news articles and the scientists who, in most cases, are required by their institutions to approve the press releases in advance.”
John Oliver discusses p-hacking, replication and sponsor bias.