UK newspaper, The Sun, is no stranger to controversy. Indeed, as part of News Corporation, it is currently mired in the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed its now killed-off sister paper, The News of the World. (The sheer speed of developments prevents me from summarizing that scandal here, but regular updates are being posted to the relevant Wikipedia page.) The Sun has also been the subject of a decades-long boycott by the people of Liverpool following a series of fabricated stories regarding the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster. And one of its most famous front-page headlines, from way back in 1986, relates to another specious story, which claimed that the British comedian Freddie Starr ate his girlfriend’s pet hamster after she refused to make him a sandwich. Yes. It’s one of those types of newspapers.
As such, rarely does The Sun dabble in science news. However, this week it carried a story relating to a scientific paper recently accepted for publication in the prestigious academic journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Now, as an academic journal, PRSB is not to be sneezed at (its impact factor places it in the top 10 biology journals in the world). Moreover, as the paper is as yet only in press, we surely must give credit to The Sun’s journalists for keeping abreast (sorry) of the relevant scholarly abstract databases. Then again, maybe a press release was involved.
The Sun was only too glad to cover the findings of this particular research. After all, the study appears to corroborate some of the claims of physiognomy (namely, that you can judge a person’s moral character simply by looking at them), which is fairly consistent with The Sun’s general approach when reporting diversity issues. In this particular case, the research findings suggest that liars have different shaped heads compared to other people, about as Sun-friendly a research outcome as is possible to imagine. However, the way The Sun explained the findings was not without irony… Continue reading “Big fat liars”