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Criticize Research


Techniques General persuasion > Being Right > Criticize Research

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



If the other person's argument is based on some form of research, attack that research, showing that it is wrong, inadequate or invalid. For example you can say that:

  • The sampling methodology is incorrect for the type of research.
  • The sample size is too small.
  • The selection of the sample is flawed, such as choosing only available people rather than a truly random sample.
  • The execution of the research is poor, such as not using controls or blind trials.
  • The analysis of data is incorrect, such using wrong algorithms or using them incorrectly.
  • The conclusions drawn are inappropriate, such as generalizing too far from a limited finding.

You can also accuse the person of misquoting research, misunderstanding it or generally bending to their purpose beyond its original intent.


A marketing executive uses customer research in a presentation. The sceptical sales manager points out that this is an 'opt-in' survey that says nothing of those who said 'no' or who weren't even asked.

An activist challenges pharmaceutical company findings, noting that they are funding drugs research that strangely always supports the company's drugs, with no negative findings being published.

Evans and Prosser have done a little research in this area, but I will show you their research is not only wrong, but dangerous.


When people criticize others, they often appear to be more intelligent. This is known as the 'critic effect'. Research is a quite academic discipline that many people know little about. Quoting research makes you seem clever. Criticizing research makes you seem cleverer still.

One of the great joys of academics is criticizing the research of other academics in order to gain status and appear as the more 'serious' researcher. In practice, very little research is perfect, making this a widespread game.

Many people use outside of academics use research as a touchstone, quoting it widely, confident in the knowledge that much of their audience has not and will never read the original papers. For the ready critic, this makes them an easy target as the presenters often have not read the research themselves.

You can also use criticism within an argument, for example quoting research then destroying it.

See also

Social Research

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