Schadenfreude


One probably should not laugh at another’s misfortune, but sometimes it can just not be helped. For those unfamiliar with it, schadenfreude is the German word for just that. There is not an equivalent English word. I recently, twice, had a really good schadenfreude. This had nothing to do with podiatry or the foot, but has everything to do with pseudoscience and junk science.

A predatory journal is the lowest of the low when it comes to the quality of the science that they publish. They have no impact factor and they are a business model based on exploiting academics; and they typically have no or low standards when it comes to the pre-publication peer review process. In other words, a lot of crap gets published in the predatory journals. So if you do crap research and it gets rejected from a decent journal with a good impact factor, then you can assume that a predatory journal might publish your crap. Hylton Menz has blogged about some predatory foot and ankle journals and here is the Wikipedia entry on open access predatory journals.

My schadenfreude involves a really really badly done study comparing the health of vaccinated kids to unvaccinated kids that was published in a predatory journal, presumably as no decent journal would publish it. I won’t get into what is wrong with it as Skeptical Raptor did a good job on that here. Needless to say, the anti-vaccination cult were having all sorts of excitement over this one, once again showing their lack of critical thinking skills as to what was wrong with the study. It really was that bad, but do they care? Of course not, as it fits in with their narrative and preconceived biases. The schadenfreude happened when the cult reacted to the bottom dwelling predatory journal actually retracting the study in the way that they did. Predatory journals do not retract studies, but this study was so bad that this predatory Journal actually did it! Orac did a good job of laughing at the reaction of the cult to the retraction.

Of course, the retraction happened because it was simply bad science; but the cult are so convinced that it is a BigPharma conspiracy that was behind it. That is how blinded by their faith that they are. They are too blinded to understand what is good and bad science and their track record is that they do not do science very well at all (which is why they have the beliefs that they do). The hilarity of their reaction to the retraction is where the schadenfreude comes in.

To add to that it was not long before the exact same study turned up in yet another predatory journal! As reported by Retraction Watch, the study was retracted again by this journal as well. How about that: a study so bad that two predatory journals actually retract it after letting it through their pathetic peer review processes! Yet the cult still think it is one big conspiracy against them. Surely it should be bleedin obvious that there is actually something wrong with the study and that is why two predatory journals retracted it!

The really sad part of all this is the shear futility of trying to engage with cult members over research methodology quality and the actual problems with the study. No matter what you say and do, they can not see it and you are just part of the big conspiracy. They then use the usual gambit of logical fallacies. This puts you on the receiving end of their hate and vitriol, which speaks volumes about what sort of human beings they are. Been there, done that. All you have left then is to ridicule their stupidity, enjoy the schadenfreude that this causes them and wonder how they manage to function day-to-day in society.

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