Another Science War

- Fictitious evidence on women's fertility and the “egg aging” panic in 2010s Japan
TANAKA Sigeto <http://tsigeto.info>
(Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University)
Advances in Gender Research. 24. (2017)

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URI: http://tsigeto.info/17d

Abstract

Purpose: In the early 2010s, Japanese society recognized and experienced a panic about increasing infertility and people's lack of knowledge about human reproduction. This paper focuses on several graphs that misrepresented or distorted scientific findings that were used in the campaign related to this panic and explores (1) how the graphs were made, used, and authorized, and (2) how they contributed to changes in discourses and policies.

Methodology/approach: Literature survey.

Findings: (1) The graphs were made in the field of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive medicine by questionable methods, including falsifying, trimming, and misunderstanding of data. (2) Researchers in the field of fertility study relied on secondary and tertiary sources thus ignoring and compounding errors. (3) Such inauthentic research was approved and politically mobilized by professional organizations, rather than being penalized or criticized. (4) Discourse based on such unscientific knowledge may have encouraged a pronatalist policy of promoting early marriage and education about human fertility and life planning, targeted at teenage girls.

Research limitations/implications: Any society suffering from a low birthrate can experience similar phenomena. This study focuses on Japan, but it has wider implications about how low integrity and quality of the presentation of medical research can cause these issues elsewhere in the world.

Social implications: This paper includes a warning against biological explanations that contain unscientific connotations about gender.

Originality/value of paper: This paper confirms how gender-related policy in 2010s Japan was influenced by science that lacked research integrity and was of sub-standard quality.

Keywords

pseudoscience, reproductive medicine, pronatalist policy, fecundity, biology, education

Contents

Figures

Acknowledgment

This study is based on my activities in an activist group (Koukou hoken hukukyouzai no siyou tyuusi kaisyuu o motomeru kai: http://fukukyozai.jimdo.com). I extend my thanks to the members of the group for fruitful discussion, as well as to the editors of this volume for their helpful comments.

References


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