How You Can Tell Whether a Sex “Expert” Is Legitimate

How You Can Tell Whether a Sex “Expert” Is Legitimate

Gizmodo recently published an exposé on Daniel Sendler, someone who presented himself as a sex expert to the popular media and succeeded in getting a lot of publicity for himself over the last two years. However, as Gizmodo reports, Sendler was a “serial fabulist” who misrepresented his training and credentials.

The Sendler case got me thinking about how journalists and consumers alike can tell the real scientific experts from the fake ones. I tweeted a few thoughts on this the other day, but wanted to expand on some of them here.

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So You Want To Be A Science Blogger? Here’s What You Need To Know

So You Want To Be A Science Blogger? Here’s What You Need To Know

I’ve been running the Sex and Psychology blog for nearly 7 (!) years at this point. When I started, I didn’t know a whole lot about blogging. I gradually picked it up over time, but it definitely took a while to find my stride. As you might imagine, I learned a lot about the dos and don’ts of blogging on sex science (and science more broadly) along the way. I’m often asked for writing advice by people who are new to this, so if you’re thinking about becoming a science blogger, here are some of the key things I’ve learned so far:

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As a Sex Researcher and Educator, Last Night's Election was Terrifying

As a Sex Researcher and Educator, Last Night's Election was Terrifying

As I watched last night’s U.S. election results come in, I was stunned and shocked. When I work up this morning, I was terrified. 

These feelings are, in part, a function of my personal politics—the details of which I’ll spare you. However, I also feel these very same emotions in my capacity as a sex researcher and educator—and that’s what I’d like to talk about for a few moments. Here’s why what happened last night at all levels of government scares me.

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One Simple Rule For Determining Whether a Sex “Expert” Is Legitimate

One Simple Rule For Determining Whether a Sex “Expert” Is Legitimate

A lot of people claim to be “experts” on sex and relationships. However, as you probably know, being an “expert” isn’t an official title—anyone can claim expertise if they want to. So how can you tell whether someone who touts themselves as an expert on sex or love is likely to be legitimate and knows what they’re talking about?

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Why We Need Better Media Reporting On the Science of Sex

Why We Need Better Media Reporting On the Science of Sex

When science is reported in the media, it is often horribly distorted. One of the biggest reasons for this stems from the fact that many of the journalists and bloggers reporting on science simply don’t have a very good understanding of how science in general works. But it's not just that--many of them don't even make an attempt to understand the specific studies they're writing about, with some publishing articles based upon nothing more than a quick review of an abstract or press release.

The end result is that far too many media reports about science contain nothing but bogus information. Unfortunately, this is something I see all the time when research on sex and relationships is covered.

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Which Scientific Research Is Worth Publishing? Why Perceived Impact And Importance Are Flawed Publication Criteria

Which Scientific Research Is Worth Publishing? Why Perceived Impact And Importance Are Flawed Publication Criteria

Open-access (OA) science journals such as PLoS ONE operate under a different model of editorial and peer review than the traditional non-OA journals. Perhaps the biggest difference is that, at the traditional journals, reviewers and editors are usually encouraged to take into account what they perceive to be the potential impact and importance of a given study in determining whether or not it merits publication. In contrast, such judgments are irrelevant at many OA journals, where the focus of review is on whether the science itself is technically sound. At OA journals, whether a given study is important is a determination that is made by research consumers themselves rather than by editorial boards. This difference in focus has led some scientists to view OA journals with skepticism and to perceive that their review process is “watered down.” However, I would argue that by not focusing on perceived impact and importance, OA journals take a lot of the subjectivity out of the review process and, in the end, this is ultimately beneficial to science.

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Make Your Mark On Science By Participating In A Sex Study

Make Your Mark On Science By Participating In A Sex Study

Looking for a much-needed distraction from work? Or just trying to find a fun way to kill a few minutes online? Consider putting this time to good use by making an important contribution to the science of sex. Below are links to a series of sex studies conducted by me or one of my esteemed research collaborators. Each study has a different focus and you are eligible to participate in as many or as few as you would like, assuming that you meet the relevant selection criteria (please note that you must be age 18 or older to participate in any of these studies). Any help you can provide by participating or spreading the word is greatly appreciated and will help to advance our scientific understanding of human sexuality.

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      One Million Pages Of Sex

      I founded The Psychology of Human Sexuality one and a half years ago in order to share the science of sex, love, and relationships in a way that is both accessible and engaging, but that doesn’t replicate most of the other sexuality blogs out there. So many of those blogs make claims based only upon one individual’s personal experiences and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong—there’s certainly a place for those websites, and I have been known to enjoy them from time to time myself. I just don’t think they should be your only source of information about sex because certain questions can only be answered through scientific research.
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      Have Some Human Sexuality Courses Crossed The Line?

      There has been a lot of controversy over college-level Human Sexuality courses lately. For instance, a student at Western Nevada College just filed a lawsuit against her school and instructor because she attended a Human Sexuality course in which students were allegedly required to masturbate, keep a sex journal, and discuss their own sexual history as part of a paper assignment. And last year, a well-known sex researcher made headlines after it was discovered that he held an event for his Human Sexuality students outside of class in which a nude woman was sexually stimulated by a motorized sex toy on stage. These are just a few examples of cases where the media has questioned whether some of these classes have simply gone too far (see here for details on a few other cases that have attracted media attention over the years). In this article, I offer my thoughts on this subject based upon my own teaching experiences.  
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      How Should We Deal With Scientific Fraud in Psychology?

      How Should We Deal With Scientific Fraud in Psychology?
      It was recently reported that a Dutch social psychologist, Diederik Stapel, published at least 30 papers in reputable scientific journals based on data he had completely faked. The full scope of Stapel’s academic misconduct is still being investigated and could possibly extend much further than this. How such widespread fraud went undetected for so many years has vexed the entire scientific community. As if that weren't enough cause for concern, a journal article just came out showing how easy it is for psychologists to manipulate real data in order to show almost any result they want [1]. Consequently, many people are rightly questioning what we can do to get a better handle on unethical research practices. In this article, I offer my own take on what we should do about this issue.
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      Ten of the Most Sensationalized Sex Headlines From the Past Few Years

      Ten of the Most Sensationalized Sex Headlines From the Past Few Years
      I make it a point to keep up with the latest sex and relationships news but, unfortunately, I find that a lot of the media reports on these topics are not very well written and tend to be overly sensationalized. Part of the problem is that many of the people we trust to report on science don’t have a solid understanding of statistics and the scientific method. As a result, I constantly come across articles that are misleading or, in some cases, completely false. What I’d like to do in this article is share some of most sensationalized articles I’ve come across in recent years and explain where the reporting went wrong.
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