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Respected Science Magazine Cites The Onion's Groundbreaking Research

Susan Notes:

Hat Tip to Retraction Watch for this story from Gawker.

by Hudson Hongo
July 25, 2014

News organizations treating The Onion's satire as reality is nothing new, but there's an especially tragic quality to the error when the dupe is one of the oldest science magazines in the country.

On Wednesday, Science News published an article about the sadism of children titled "Schadenfreude starts young" that, alongside this legit study from neuroscientist Simone Shamay-Tsoory, cited a paper by The Onion's more questionably accredited Dr. Leonard Mateo.

"A psychologist once even argued that most children under 10 would qualify as sociopaths if they were grown-ups," wrote Science News, linking to a 5-year-old Onion article titled New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths.

After readers recognized the blunder, Science News scrubbed the citation, failing to note any correction had taken place. Of course, strictly hypothetical.

It would be nice to think this incident might serve as reminder to media outlets about checking their sources, but in the words of one completely fictional child psychologist, "Sadly, experience has taught us there is little hope for rehabilitation."

— Hudson Hongo


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