June was a bad month for media stories about social science. A study examined how gendered expectations affect the public’s interpretation of severe weather warnings about hurricanes. They found that given the same information, people are less likely to see a hurricane as threatening if it’s given a woman’s name over a male name. International media ran with headlines saying, “Female hurricanes are deadlier than males.”
Many journalists failed to read the original study and speculated wildly, while other commentators indulged in sexist quips. The study was also heavily criticised out of context, ignoring the researchers’ aims, which was to examine how gender stereotypes affects how people take in specialist hurricane warnings.
See the researchers’ response in the comments section of Ed Yong’s post.