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The nonsense math effect

This week, the Freakonomics blog covered research by Stockholm University’s Kimmo Eriksson, which found that including a mathematical equation in the abstract of a research paper made scholars from different fields judge the research to be ‘of higher quality’, even though the equation is unrelated to the work and also complete nonsense. The study included 200 participants, although the amount by which the equation increased the perceived ‘quality’ of research varied between disciplines, and in fact caused a slight decrease for people working in mathematics or science subjects.

Via Tim Harford on Twitter.

One Response to “The nonsense math effect”

  1. Alistair Bird

    Impressed, maybe, but you also risk putting people off, as suggested by the paper: Heavy use of equations impedes communication among biologists. (Which was covered here.)

    Reply

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