Confirmation Bias: The case of the bisexual dolphin

This topic is not in any way related to ethnicity. However, the topic of confirmation bias does matter in ethnic analysis because there are many people who use sources uncritically. Yesterday saw a slew of news articles which claim that dolphins have been shown to engage in bisexual behaviour and even bisexual rape. This may be true, but the original freely available article: A novel mammalian social structure in Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.): complex male alliances in an open social network, says nothing about dolphin sexuality. Rather they once use the term “bisexual philopatry” which was translated by science ‘journalists’ as “bisexual behaviour.” It means however, that both male and female dolphins like to stay near where they were born.

  1. Dolphins Engage In Bisexuality And Even Homosexuality: Study: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/dolphins-bisexuality-homosexuality-study-_n_1388330.html
  2. Dolphins – Living Loose in the Ocean: http://news.discovery.com/animals/dolphin-society-120327.html
  3. Male dolphins are bisexual, US scientists claim: http://www.news.com.au/technology/sci-tech/male-dolphins-are-bisexual-us-scientists-claim/story-fn5fsgyc-1226313180637
  4. Male dolphins are bisexual, say boffins: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4226808/Male-dolphins-are-bisexual-say-boffins.html
  5. Male bottlenose dolphins engage in extensive bisexuality: http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/male-bottlenose-dolphins-engage-in-extensive-bisexuality_766731.html

The UK Telegraph went so far as to claim:

In some instances, males would assert their authority by forcefully mounting other males and other such violent sexual behaviour.

Dolphins ‘resort to rape’: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/9172937/Dolphins-resort-to-rape.html

Since when was mounting a male = bisexuality? Male human wrestlers regularly mount each other. Bisexuality would require some form of physical penetration or seminal transfer.

Many people suffer from confirmation bias who have PhDs and know better. Like the UK Telegraph, they make wild claims that are not supported by the evidence. Classic cases would be “race realists” J.P. Rushton and Richard Lynn as highlighted in previous posts.

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