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It’s the kind of story that could sound true, but seems off.
That was the feeling I got last week, when a Washington Post article — “Horns are growing on young people’s skulls. Phone use is to blame, research suggests” — appeared in my email inbox.
The article goes on to state the following:
The report covers a 2018 study published in Scientific Reports, which used head X-rays of 1,200 chiropractic patients to claim that young adults aged 18 to 30 are growing bone masses on the backs of their skulls, a supposed phenomenon that The Washington Post described as “horns” (which are technically bone spurs called enlarged external occipital protuberances — EEOPs or EOPs).
A week before The Washington Post article, BBC Future published a feature story on “How modern life is transforming the human skeleton,” which featured the same study from Scientific Reports.
the problem, according to John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, is that the researchers “haven’t provided the data to back up their claim.”
According to the report, the study makes claims that don’t have numbers, images and supporting data to back those claims.
Scientific Reports is “one of the most well-regarded science publishers in the world,” PBS reports, and papers are typically peer-reviewed by experts in the field to help safeguard against the publishing unsound research.
A spokesperson for Scientific Reports says they are “looking into issues regarding this paper,” promising to “take action where appropriate.”
The spokesperson said they don’t “comment on the specific editorial history of a particular paper published in the journal,” however.
Heads up, science nation. 'The millennials are growing horns' study has a new twist:
— Nsikan Akpan (@MoNscience) June 25, 2019
So, now there are Millennial smartphone-horn truthers. https://t.co/al4CXVJgRs
— Ian Bogost (@ibogost) June 25, 2019
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