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Misquote Research


Techniques General persuasion > Being Right > Misquote Research

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Find research that has some indication around the point you are trying to make, then reference the research, while changing it to make it sound as if it proves your point.

For example:

  • Take the main finding of the research and generalize it, extending the meaning.
  • Avoid mentioning limitations of the research, such as it having a narrow subject demographic, few data points or limited use of statistics.
  • Only reference research that supports your point, ignoring research that shows you may be wrong.
  • Reference impenetrable papers that anyone reading would find difficult to interpret.
  • Mention your own research, which may or may not have been published.

Or just make things up, saying the research proves something when it does not go anywhere near the subject. You can even fabricate entire research papers.


Well in research at Oxford University they showed that this treatment will be successful in over 80% of all cases. I think this proves the point and we should use this approach!

I've conducted research in this area myself and I can tell you that this is the only way that will work.


Few people would ever look up any research that you quote at them (few would even know how). This allows you to make claims about research in many contexts.

It helps if what you are claiming hat face validity, that is plausible and is reasonable when using 'common sense' thinking. Research then acts to reinforce easy views and to refute oblique challenges. 

A problem with things that seem to make sense is that they can be wrong a surprising amount of times. A classic example is in ideas to prevent and correct crime, where methods to dissuade criminals and make them see the light of the law often fail dismally.

You can also claim to have conducted the research yourself, although quoting the research of others, especially from well-known and respected institutions can seem more credible.

There is a hierarchy of research journals, with the top journals carefully scrutinizing papers offered to them and only publishing those which are well researched and meaningful. At the bottom are journals (which are much like magazines) which will publish pretty much anything that is submitted to them without any checks on the author or what they do. All kinds of claims may be found in these lower journals.

One of the questions for any research is 'who paid for it?' as this can indicate where bias may be found. For example if medical research is funded by a big pharmaceutical company, then it might be unsurprising if the company's products are found to be useful (or at least not harmful).

Beware of doing this with academics who delight in checking out and challenging research. Watch also for people who have academic qualifications and who might know something about the research in the area in question.

See also

Social Research

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